In arguably the most consequential game of his career, with the Bears’ playoff hopes and his future on the line, quarterback Mitch Trubisky must do something few in franchise history have done: Keep up with Aaron Rodgers.
While their head-to-head matchup is overblown since they don’t play directly against each other, the fact remains that Trubisky could deliver the game of his life and still have it be insufficient next to what Rodgers does.
“You have to respect who Aaron is in that he’s been playing this game for a long time — one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play in the history of this game,” coach Matt Nagy said. “There are going to be things that he does in a game that... you’re not going to be able to do.
“I think we make it more about the team right now. I haven’t heard anything about Mitchell versus Aaron, at least on my end.”
Nagy must not have spent much time consuming media coverage this week, but he surely knows that Rodgers and Trubisky will determine the outcome of a monumental game for his team. If the Bears win, they’re in the playoffs. If they lose, they’ll need the Cardinals to lose to the Rams.
The part of that equation that’s in the Bears’ control hinges squarely on Trubisky and Rodgers.
Can the Bears disrupt Rodgers enough to mitigate his overwhelming talent? Can Trubisky maintain anything close to the recent performances he had against a string of lightweights? The outcome of the game can be reduced to those two questions.
Last time these teams met, Rodgers literally went untouched. He had three touchdowns before the Bears had finished tying their cleats, and the game was lost before halftime. If Rodgers rolls unchecked like that again, it won’t matter what Trubisky does.
Meanwhile, Trubisky completed 13 of 25 passes for 130 yards as the Bears trailed 41-10 through three quarters. He had two interceptions and a lost fumble that the Packers returned for a touchdown. If he self-destructs like that, it won’t matter how well the Bears’ defense manages Rodgers.
Rodgers could beat that on his worst day. He had two of his 10 worst performances against the Bears last season and still won the opener 10-3 and their Week 15 game 21-13.
“He never seems to be rattled,” Trubisky said. “I just look at his command and how calm he is, and I think that confidence that he brings is something that you try to replicate in your own game.”
The next Bears quarterback to replicate that will be the first. Trubisky and Jay Cutler have been Rodgers’ primary adversaries in this rivalry, and he has gone 14-3 against them.
In the five Trubisky-Rodgers showdowns, Rodgers has completed 61% of his passes (Trubisky: 59.9%), thrown for 235.4 yards per game (Trubisky: 242) and put up nine touchdowns against one interception (Trubisky: six, five) for a 98.6 passer rating (Trubisky: 76.0).
Trubisky’s lone victory was a memorable day two years ago when he completed 20 of 28 passes for 235 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions to lead the Bears to a 24-17 win that clinched the NFC North for the first time since 2010.
That was a rare interruption of the Packers’ recent stranglehold. At 12-3, they’ve clinched the North for the seventh time in 10 years.
Trubisky has actually fared better against Rodgers than Cutler. In their games, Rodgers completed 67.5% of his passes (Cutler: 56.4%), averaged 253.5 yards (Cutler: 218.1) and threw for 26 touchdowns against seven interceptions (Cutler: 15, 22) for a 105.5 passer rating (Cutler: 66.6).
Trubisky is a tremendous underdog. He’s facing history, the pressure of an entire season riding on him, his career at stake and the urgency of trying to outpace a future Hall of Famer. If he can navigate all that, maybe he really is worth another look.