As much as the Green Bay Packers’ green-and-gold enrages Bears fans, this isn’t much of a rivalry right now. Not one bit.
The most remarkable stat between the teams is that the Bears somehow have maintained a 93-91-6 advantage in the league’s oldest rivalry.
Recent history, as in the last 20 or so years, slants heavily toward the Packers, and it’s on coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace to stop the bleeding.
It’s appropriate that the Fox era should begin against the Packers because every coach since Mike Ditka has been fired in part because they couldn’t beat them.
“I like what I’ve seen in our preparation for Green Bay,” Fox said.
The Bears-Packers rivalry has turned into a one-sided event featuring humiliating beatdowns and much reveling north of the Illinois border. Some highlights, as provided by the Packers:
>> Coach Mike McCarthy is 13-6 against the Bears, including a 7-3 mark at Soldier Field.
>> The Packers have won five in a row and six of their last seven games at Soldier Field.
>> Since the NFC North was formed in 2002, the Packers have won eight division titles. The Bears have won three.
>> Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 12-3 against the Bears.
>> The Packers scored 93 points in their two victories against the Bears last season. Rodgers was 40-for-55 for 617 yards, 10 touchdowns and a 149.0 passer rating.
Again, how is this a rivalry?
Former Bears coach Lovie Smith promised success against the Packers — “I feel the pain,” he said at his first news conference — and he had it initially.
After starting 8-5 against the Packers, however, Smith lost six consecutive games, including the NFC title game at Soldier Field after the 2010 regular season.
Smith appeared to have a solution for former Packers coach Mike Sherman and quarterback Brett Favre, but then McCarthy and Rodgers took over, and the Packers seem to be a step ahead.
Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron, the coaches before Smith, were a combined 3-19 against the Packers.
Rivalry, you say?
Fox said he hasn’t talked much about it this week. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he didn’t watch the first half of their second meeting in 2014 in which the Packers jumped out to a 42-0 lead. As offensive coordinator Adam Gase said, “Whatever happened in the past is over.”
But the fundamental importance of this matchup isn’t lost on Fox. He knows exactly how significant it is for the McCaskey family. The Packers’ 55-14 victory last season was an embarrassment felt at all levels. It led to unprecedented changes in the organization.
“When the matriarch [Virginia McCaskey] of our organization is not real happy with the way things have gone,” Fox said, “[and] some of that is probably relative to the two games against our opponent this Sunday, that message is pretty loud and clear.”
Catching Green Bay will require many things: reliable quarterback play, coaching stability, a revitalized defense and an organizational philosophy led by a GM who drafts well.
The Bears hope they have some of that in place. But they’ve felt good in the past, too.
“Since I’ve been here, they’ve gotten the best of us,” running back Matt Forte said. “It’s time that this organization turned that around. . . . We need to change the way things have been going the last few years.”
RT Kyle Long
His move to tackle won’t be seamless, but he’s a quick learner and a freak athlete. Long can handle everything thrown at him.
ILB Shea McClellin
The Bengals went after him in the preseason; the Packers will do the same. Can he handle Aaron Rodgers’ onslaught?
NT Eddie Goldman
The Bears need their second-round pick to dominate the middle and make life easier for everyone behind him. He has the ability to do it.
QB Aaron Rodgers
History says Rodgers is going to have a field day. But coordinator Vic Fangio’s creative 3-4 defense will try to confuse him.
WR Davante Adams
Jordy Nelson is done for the season, meaning Adams has a chance to become the Packers’ No. 1 receiver. Will his rise begin on Sunday?
ILB Clay Matthews
As Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase said, ‘‘Wherever you play this guy, he’s going to be a tough guy to handle.’’
— Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers
‘‘The only guy that even comes close to his release over the years is Dan Marino, and I think his is better than Marino’s was. He’s gifted with a great release. I’ve coached against him a lot and seen a lot of tape of him, and he never ceases to amaze you.’’
Christian Jones, Inside linebacker, No. 59
Shea McClellin gets most of the attention. But Jones, the Bears’ other inside linebacker, also has been in the same spot since the offseason program.
And Jones has been just as good, if not better. He could be the Bears’ best linebacker in coverage.
‘‘[The Packers] game will show a lot,’’ Jones said. ‘‘It’s a good offense. They do a lot of different things. It’s a good test for us.’’
Jones doesn’t handle the initial defensive calls, but he echoes them to the secondary and his side of the line. He believes he forms a strong tandem with McClellin.
“We both fit well in what we do,” said Jones, who started six games last season as an undrafted rookie. ‘‘It’s all about going out there and being consistent.’’
Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns.