Rodgers, Cutler bring continuity to rivalry
Change is the operative word in the NFL.
But even during the most transitory of times, certain players develop staying power.
Sunday will be the ninth time that Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler have opened at quarterback in the same game in the Packers-Bears rivalry. That may not seem like much, but the six years the two have roamed opposite sidelines might be considered an era in a league whose initials have also come to mean "not for long."
They have become the most frequent pair to open at quarterback in the past 65 years of this series. They can be found in more starting lineups than any other since 1950.
Fifty-six quarterbacks have started in the series since then: 20 for Green Bay, 36 for Chicago. Two — Zeke Bratkowski and Mike Tomczak — wore both uniforms at some point.
The Packers' Don Milan and Carlos Brown and the Bears' Larry Rakestraw and Kent Nix never got a second start in the rivalry. Others, like Brett Favre (32 starts), Bart Starr (23) and Jim Harbaugh (10) lasted longer.
Count Rodgers and Cutler among the long-timers.
Rodgers was the Packers' first-round draft choice (24th overall) in 2005. Cutler was Denver's first-round pick (11th overall) a year later. Cutler, 31, is the older by seven months. Chicago obtained him in a 2009 trade.
The two have squared off eight times; Green Bay won seven.
The Bears' lone victory came Sept. 27, 2010. Late in the fourth quarter, receiver James Jones fumbled after catching a short pass from Rodgers, and Chicago's Tim Jennings recovered. Robbie Gould nailed a 19-yard field goal seven plays later for a 20-17 win.
Having won seven of eight outings, it's not surprising Rodgers has the better statistics. His passer rating of 95.8 includes 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. Cutler has a rating of 60.9 with 10 TDs and 17 INTs.
On any given down, Rodgers has the higher rating. The biggest gap can be found on third/fourth downs where Cutler (60.8) trails Rodgers (101.1) by more than 40 points.
Noteworthy, too, is what has unfolded in the latter stages of those games. Rodgers (120.1) has averaged 10.5 yards per pass attempt in the fourth quarter on 56 throws. Cutler (49.6) has an average of 5.8 yards in 82 attempts.
Having to play from behind could be one reason Cutler's numbers don't measure up. He's has had to operate in that mode far more often.
On average, the Packers have been leading just shy of 33 minutes per game. Chicago has held a lead for just under 11 minutes.
Of Cutler's 247 attempts against the Packers, 168 (68 percent) have been while trailing. For Rodgers, 61 of 270 passes (22.6) have come when trailing.
Cutler has thrown 30 passes with a lead. Rodgers has thrown 125.
While Cutler has had more practice trying to rally his team, Rodgers has the better rating when playing from behind. Rodger has a 106.8 rating when trailing compared to 59.6 for Cutler.
For Rodgers and the Packers, the past eight games have mostly worked in their favor. But for just the second time since becoming a Bear, Cutler has a better passer rating (98.2) than Rodgers (95.1) after the first three weeks of a season.
Cutler has missed two starts against the Packers since 2009. He did not suit up on Christmas 2011 (broken thumb) and again Nov. 4, 2013 (groin). Josh McCown, now with Tampa Bay, started both games in his place.
Overall: Chicago leads 92-88-6
At Soldier Field: Packers lead 22-19
Packers: Aaron Rodgers (59-31 overall; 9-3 vs. Chicago)
Bears: Jay Cutler (58-49; 1-8 vs. Green Bay)
Once a Bear, now a Packer
Linebacker Julius Peppers (2010-13) is a former Bear.
Once a Packer, now a Bear
Linebacker Terrell Manning (2012) is a former Packer.
Since 1950, Packers and Bears quarterbacks who have started the most regular-season games against each other:
G Players Years
8 Aaron Rodgers-Jay Cutler 2009-13
7 Bart Starr-Bill Wade 1960-65
5 Bart Starr-Ed Brown 1957-58, 1959-60
5 Brett Favre-Erik Kramer 1994-97
4 occurred 10 times