LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Shortly after Aaron Rodgers was traded from the Green Bay Packers to the New York Jets on April 24, Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams began pondering what life would be like in the new era of the NFL’s longest rivalry.
“As soon as he goes, we smile, and we say, ‘Good luck in New York, hope you enjoy Broadway and enjoy all the stuff that they have out there,’ and then we go, ‘hey, let’s move on,’” Williams said. “New chapter. Move on. And then you start looking. You start planning.”
And the plan, according to defensive tackle Justin Jones, is to reverse roles with a Packers team that has beaten the Bears the last eight in a row.
“We’re about to be on the other side of that now,” Jones said Thursday. “We’re going to be the ones giving the beatdown. We’re not getting beat by them anymore, it’s going to be us [from] now on. It starts Sunday.”
The Bears’ last win over the Packers was 24-17 in 2018. Only three players on the Bears’ roster — Cody Whitehair, Eddie Jackson and Patrick Scales — were a part of that group, which clinched the division with the win.
Chicago hasn’t won two in a row over Green Bay since 2007, when Rodgers was Brett Favre’s backup. But with Rodgers in New York and Green Bay fielding one of the NFL’s youngest teams led by 24-year-old QB Jordan Love, the Bears may have a shot to revive a rivalry that was once one of the fiercest in the NFL. The Bears are a -1 favorite at Soldier Field.
“I’ve played them roughly 20 times, and I’ve beat them one time,” said Scales, the Bears long-snapper. “Every chance I get to play them, I want to play them, and I want to beat them.”
Rodgers compiled a 26-5 record against the Bears over 15 seasons, including two playoff wins. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Green Bay’s +306-point differential in 31 games with Rodgers vs. the Bears is the second-highest among any division rivals since 2008.
“I didn’t really watch football a lot growing up, so I didn’t really know about rivalries,” said right tackle Darnell Wright, the Bears’ first-round pick in April. “I never really grew up hating the Packers, but there are some guys in here that do. So I guess I’m falling in line. I guess that’s how it is right now.”
The Packers lead the NFL’s longest rivalry 105-95-6, but the only thing the Bears are concerned about is preventing a ninth straight loss.
For most of the players on the Bears, especially the younger ones, the history of the rivalry isn’t well known. But the team emphasized it during Monday’s rookie development session.
“They’ve got a new quarterback over there, it’s his first season being the guy,” rookie wide receiver Tyler Scott said. “We want to take advantage of that.
“When you look at the whole division, there’s definitely some weak spots in there, and I feel like when you look at it on paper, I feel like we have the best team on paper than any of the other teams in the division for sure. We just have to go out and prove it. I feel like there’s a sense of it’s right in front of us.”
Green Bay’s period of transition at quarterback is unique for a franchise that featured Favre (16 years) and Rodgers (15) for the past 31 years.
“I can’t [wait],” safety Jaquan Brisker said. “I’m itching [to play] … People hate Green Bay. I hate Green Bay. So I can’t wait.”