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Bears’ defense looks vulnerable heading into rematch vs. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

The Bears’ rebound has been thanks largely to their offense, and that’s an unfamiliar feeling. The defense, meanwhile, has dropped off substantially since its ferocious performances against Rodgers in 2018 and ’19.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a 105.3 career passer rating against the Bears.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a 105.3 career passer rating against the Bears.
Nam Y. Huh/AP

It’s hard to pinpoint the lowest moment of a season that saw the Bears start 5-1, then implode with a six-game losing streak. But their thorough humiliation against the Packers on Nov. 29 is as good a nominee as any.

In a nationally televised Sunday night game against their rival, the Bears fell apart almost instantly. The Packers rolled through long touchdown drives on their first three possessions and led 27-3 less than 24 minutes into the game. Anything that happened after that was irrelevant.

“That’s one of those games you just never want to have,” coach Matt Nagy said Monday. “It happened. And now what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to learn from it, as coaches and as players. Why did that happen? Well, that’s our job to make sure. We’re already all over that.”

They’d better be. Otherwise, the Bears, who host the Packers in the regular-season finale Sunday, are cruising toward another devastating reminder of how far away they are from contending.

The Bears can clinch a playoff spot with a win, but that would require a massive turnaround from how they played in that 41-25 loss at Lambeau Field a month ago.

Nagy believes a lot has changed for his team since then — and he has some evidence to support that.

But almost nothing has changed for the Packers. That’s problematic.

The victory over the Bears was the first of five consecutive wins for the Packers, who most recently destroyed the playoff-caliber Titans 40-14. That game was over before the end of the third quarter.

And while the Bears are celebrating Mitch Trubisky’s improvement from awful to adequate, the Packers have arguably the greatest quarterback of all time putting together arguably his greatest season of all time. Aaron Rodgers, who has 44 touchdowns against five interceptions and is favored to win his third MVP award, isn’t going to hand the Bears anything. He’ll be bent on ruining their season, which is up there with golf and travel as one of his favorite hobbies.

“He’s one of the best to ever do it, and we welcome that opportunity to play that chess match with him,” said Bears safeties coach Sean Desai, who joined the staff in 2013 and has seen Rodgers beat his team 11 of 14 times. “We’ve got a good group, and our guys understand how he is and how he can take over a game. We’ll be looking forward to that challenge.”

It hasn’t been much of a chess match at any point in Rodgers’ 16-year career. For all the good defenses the Bears have had, he has toasted them for 51 TDs against 10 interceptions for a 105.3 passer rating.

In the game last month, when he went untouched the entire night, Rodgers completed 72% of his passes and threw for four touchdowns.

Furthermore, he’s catching the Bears’ defense at what appears to be a vulnerable moment. Odd as it is to say, their improved offense has kept them afloat as their defense has struggled. The Bears set what is believed to be a franchise record by allowing seven consecutive quarterbacks to rack up 100-plus passer ratings against them this season. And if guys like Jared Goff and Kirk Cousins can do it, how much scarier is Rodgers?

In their last five games, beginning with what Rodgers did to them Thanksgiving weekend, the Bears have allowed averages of 25.2 points and 360.4 yards per game — a dramatic drop for a defense that harassed Rodgers late in 2018 and in the 2019 season opener.

The Bears aren’t used to depending on their offense, and even with Trubisky’s recent uptick, they don’t have much of a chance if this becomes a shootout. Instead, like always, this will come down to whether they can reasonably contain Rodgers, who has proven mostly uncontainable.