Why it’s on Mitch Trubisky to change Bears’ rivalry with Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
The Bears’ last visit to Lambeau Field turned out to be the last time anyone saw quarterback Mike Glennon start a game. Glennon’s ‘‘year‘’ fittingly ended in miserable fashion in Green Bay.
Looking overwhelmed from the first snap on ‘‘Thursday Night Football,’’ Glennon committed four turnovers while Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes in the Bears’ 35-14 loss.
The defeat was a stunning reminder of the chasm that existed in the rivals’ quarterback situations. A national audience saw it all. The Packers still had a superstar in Rodgers, while the Bears went from Jay Cutler to something even worse.
All of this brings us to Mitch Trubisky, who will go head-to-head with Rodgers for the first time in his career Sunday.
Last season, Trubisky faced former Packers backup Brett Hundley in the Bears’ 23-16 loss at Soldier Field in Week 10. It was a post-bye-week defeat that further doomed then-coach John Fox. His plans for Trubisky simply weren’t going to work.
That’s why this trip to Lambeau Field is different. With coach Matt Nagy’s offense in place and an array of new offensive threats, it’s the true start of what the Bears hope will be a less one-sided rivalry.
‘‘Is it significant for me? It’s a cool opportunity,’’ Trubisky said Wednesday of facing Rodgers. ‘‘Obviously, if you follow the game, which I do, and if you watch the players who have had a lot of success, which I do, you’ll see that he’s had a lot of success.
‘‘I’ve watched what he’s done, and I have a lot of respect for him. . . . I’m trying to earn my respect the same way he has: just create good production, be a great player in this league and do that consistently over a long period of time.’’
The Bears’ acquisition of outside linebacker Khalil Mack changes the nature of the rivalry. The Packers wanted him, and the Bears got him. Mack is a true superstar who will make Rodgers’ life difficult for years to come. He’s a transcendent talent who requires attention on every snap.
But Mack is only part of the Bears’ answer to their ‘‘Aaron Rodgers problem.’’ Trubisky is the key. Mack is a true difference-maker for the Bears’ defense on the field, but Trubisky must be the quarterback who levels it.
Nagy said he’ll educate his team about the history and tradition of the Bears’ rivalry against the Packers and ‘‘what it means to so many different people in this area and in Green Bay.’’ But when it comes to Trubisky and the offense, all Nagy should do is show them Cutler’s record against the Packers.
Cutler rewrote the Bears’ record books, but his 2-11 record against the Packers will define his tenure. In those 13 games, Cutler threw 16 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions. Of course, one of those losses and one of those interceptions came in the NFC Championship Game in January 2011.
In other words, Trubisky must become everything Cutler wasn’t for the Bears against the Packers. It helps that he is in a situation Cutler only could dream about with the Bears. General manager Ryan Pace not only hired Nagy, but he significantly upgraded the talent around Trubisky.
As coach Mike McCarthy indicated on a conference call, the Packers are concerned about how Nagy will feature his offensive talent: receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller, running backs Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard and tight end Trey Burton.
‘‘It’s really cool to have that matchup [with Rodgers], but it’s nothing more than that,’’ Trubisky said. ‘‘I’ve still got to go out and go against their defense and make sure my guys are all on the same page to give us a great chance.’’
That will take time. Trubisky’s second season will have its roller-coaster moments. But a Sunday night at Lambeau Field is an ideal setting for him to make a strong statement about what’s to come.
‘‘As a kid, you dream of these opportunities,’’ he said.