For at least one game, Bears-Packers rivalry has different vibe to it

SHARE For at least one game, Bears-Packers rivalry has different vibe to it

Packers coach Mike McCarthy and Bears coach John Fox last season. (AP)

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The entire scene felt familiar: the emptiness of the Packers’ vast locker room at Lambeau Field, what players said and how they expressed it, the look on their faces.

It was eerily Bears-like.

That defiant but bewildered soul-searching mood permeated the Bears’ locker rooms at home and on the road after losses during the Marc Trestman era and also last season, when they went 3-13.


Am I reading this right? The Bears are favored against the Packers?

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Now, it’s the Packers who are the shell-shocked, injury-plagued team searching for answers. Life with backup quarterback Brett Hundley and without star Aaron Rodgers has quickly turned into three consecutive losses and talk of a lost season.

After the Lions beat the Packers 30-17 on Monday night, fans flooded talk-radio shows in Green Bay and Milwaukee with an everything-must-go attitude.

It’s apparently time to fire general manager Ted Thompson. Getting rid of longtime defensive coordinator Dom Capers is an overdue move. And coach Mike McCarthy, at the very least, should be on the hot seat because he can’t win without Rodgers.

It’s important not to overreact to fan reactions, but the desperate mood in the Packers’ locker room said enough. A transcendent talent in Rodgers remains out, and wins are difficult to come by.

For the first time since 2008, the Bears have opened as the favorite against the Packers.

“We have to win,” Packers cornerback Davon House said of the game Sunday at Soldier Field. “We’ve lost three in a row. It’s another division game. We can’t lose to Chicago. We have to win this week. It’s a must-win.”

House wasn’t alone with the must-win sentiment. Cornerback Damarious Randall said it, too, as an injured Rodgers, dressed in sweats, walked around the media that surrounded Randall and out of the locker room.

When the Bears turned to quarterback Mitch Trubisky after Mike Glennon, a help-the-rookie mindset took over the locker room. It’s still in effect.

Something similar exists among the Packers with Hundley.

“He’s not going to do the things that Aaron does, but we have faith in Brett,” House said. “Shoot, if we hold [opponents] to zero, we’re going to win the game. We have to do our job on the defensive side of the ball.”

The difference is that the Bears truly believe in the hope Trubisky represents. The Packers seemingly know it, too. Just ask the players. They know the Bears are a different team today than the one they routed in Week 4.

“He’s a great player,” Packers linebacker Blake Martinez said. “He was a top pick for a reason. He’s a young guy who is slowly getting in the groove of things. You have to be ready for anything he’s got. He’s just going to keep getting better.”

They know he’s different than Glennon.

“I watched [Trubisky] just on TV a few times,” Packers defensive end Dean Lowry said. “He’s obviously more athletic than the previous quarterback.”

And they know Trubisky is showing signs of progress.

“The games I watched, he does a good job of controlling the offense, managing an offense,” House said. “He doesn’t turn the ball over. He’s not afraid to take a sack. That’s good for a young quarterback.

“Usually, young quarterbacks make mistakes and throw the ball. Usually, we love playing against young quarterbacks because they’re going to make bad decisions like that. But Mitch is a little bit smarter. He manages the game very well and doesn’t make bad decisions.”

The dynamics of the NFL’s longest rivalry seemingly have flipped.

At least for one game.

For once, the Bears feel like the team on the rise; the Packers seem lost.

“We have to figure it out,” Packers defensive lineman Mike Daniels said, “because we have the players.”

The Bears have said that before, too.

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