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Bears hoping to flip script on longtime nemesis

Bears safety Eddie Jackson
Bears safety Eddie Jackson

Packers star quarterback Brett Favre was 20-4 against the Bears when they hired a highly-regarded defensive coordinator as their new head coach in 2004.

With Lovie Smith emphasizing takeaways and running to the ball in his 4-3 scheme, the Bears beat Favre in six of eight games over his final four years in Green Bay.

Fast forward to 2022 and all of Bears nation is hoping that history repeats itself. This time it's first-year head coach Matt Eberflus trying to flip the script on another future Hall of Fame Packers quarterback.

Aaron Rodgers has won 20 of the last 22 games he's started and finished against the Bears, including 10 of the last 11. Their only win over Green Bay the past six seasons was a 24-17 NFC North-clinching victory Dec. 16, 2018, at Soldier Field. The Bears have lost six straight to their longtime rivals and six in a row at Lambeau Field.

Rodgers and the Packers no doubt will be salty heading into Sunday night's clash in Green Bay following a sub-par performance in a 23-7 season-opening loss to the Vikings. And that's just fine with linebacker Roquan Smith.

"The guy is obviously one of the greatest to ever play the game, and as a competitor myself, [I] love going against people like that," Smith said. "I'm sure he will be a little bit pissed off after this last game. Hey, you wouldn't want it any other way. Pissed off, get the best version of him, and then we get the 'dub' and it will be even sweeter."

For the first time since 2013, the Packers are playing without star receiver Davante Adams, who was traded to the Raiders during the offseason. But Rodgers remains the same quarterback who has passed for 40 touchdowns with just two interceptions in 15 games against the Bears over the past eight seasons.

"Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers regardless of who he has," said defensive end Robert Quinn. "He's bound to make something happen. I'm not in that locker room, but I think he's going to bring everyone up to his standards. I'm sure he's a future Hall of Famer, and I'm sure he wants everyone to rise up to his level."

The Bears hit the Halas Hall practice fields Wednesday afternoon as they get ready for Sunday night's matchup with the rival Packers in Green Bay.

Defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, who signed with the Bears during the offseason, helped the Colts defeat the Packers 34-31 in overtime last season in Indianapolis. Rodgers passed for 311 yards and three TDs in the game, but the Colts held Green Bay to three points after halftime in rallying from a 21-7 second-quarter deficit.

Muhammad believes that what makes Rodgers so great is his ability "to recognize what [defenses] are in, make the right decisions and get the ball out quick."

Rodgers will turn 39 in December, but he hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. He's been named NFL MVP each of the last two seasons, and some of his best performances against the Bears have come in recent years.

Over the last two seasons, Rodgers has led the Packers to wins over the Bears by scores of 41-25, 35-16, 24-14 and 45-30 with passer ratings of 132.3, 147.9, 128.0 and 141.1. His 341 yards in the most recent meeting between the teams last December in Green Bay were his most in 28 career starts against the Bears.

Defensive end Trevis Gipson believes that generating consistent pressure on the four-time NFL MVP Sunday night will be vital.

"It's going to start with the D-line," Gipson said. "He knows how to hard-count, catch some guys in substitutions. We're going to have to be clean on that, and just disciplined. No offsides, no roughing the passer, no dumb penalties. It's a rivalry game, so we're going to have to keep our poise. He's a vet; he knows how to play this game. We're just going to have to keep our poise and disrupt him as much as possible."