The Bears really do know how to ruin everything. As Packer fans around the world waited for their super team to be born, Bears officials were busy scheming up their yearly plan to be effortlessly boring, dreadfully old-fashioned, and genuinely incorrigible. You know, the Bears offseason. Can you tell I haven’t forgotten about Danny Trevathan?
This year, they settled on paying out two first-round picks (during a rebuilding phase) for an all-pro pass rusher in Khalil Mack. I won’t get into the specifics, here, but suffice to say I think Gruden has had a few too many Spider 2 Y Bananas. Since then, I’ve heard pundit after pundit after talking head opine about how this resets the rivalry–how there is no one on the Packers that can block Mack. Paging Dr. Bakhtiari.
In this edition of Pack to the Past, I want to take a look at the last time the Bears signed a high-profile pass rusher. You know who I’m talking about: Mr. Julius Peppers.
You can find a lot of similarities between his acquisition and the episode with Mack. For one, the Panthers should have paid him. Peppers was coming off a pair of seasons that saw him rack up 25 sacks and a couple of pro bowls. He had entered into his prime and the Bears leapt at the opportunity to acquire such a talent.
For reference, Mack has had 21.5 sacks in his past two seasons. His most important ability seems to be his consistency, as well. He hasn’t yet missed a game and is remarkably durable for an edge rusher. Peppers had the same blessings and was able to stay healthy from 2008-2015. Both players are physical freaks that specialize in tormenting offensive tackles and making big plays when the moment is right.
And both players have the same amount of championship rings: 0
The Bears defense will be tremendously improved with the addition of Mack, but it seems unlikely his presence is the only thing separating the Bears from eclipsing both the Vikings and the Packers at the top of the division, much less the conference. They would have to improve tremendously on their showings last year that saw them get blown out and then embarrassed by woeful Brett Hundley. I have very little faith in Trubisky as a franchise quarterback. The game on Sunday will show us how he compares to Rodgers when they both start.
However, there is some precedent for their success. The first season of the Peppers tenure in Chicago saw him collect 8 sacks, 2 interceptions, and a first team all-pro nod. The Bears defense was dominant, shielding a shaky Cutler from much consequence. This combination led the Bears to the NFC Championship game where they *checks notes* lost to the Packers. Pardon me if I don’t sound the alarm quite yet.
For some more traditional Pack to the Past purposes, there is a game I would like to point to that reminds me of the contest on Sunday night.
For the season and home opener in 2009, the Packers hosted the Bears in early September. It was Cutler’s first game as a starter for the Bears and the result was almost hilariously prescient. Cutler threw 4 interceptions and the Bears only scored 15 points. However, a stout defense helped them carry a lead into the 4th quarter. Unphased, Aaron Rodgers tosses a 40+ yard bomb to Greg Jennings on 3rd and 1 with little over a minute remaining.
Cutler threw his final interception to end the game. Sometimes you want to watch something new, we will surely get that on Sunday. But, sometimes you want to see the old hits. If you belong to the latter group, enjoy the highlight below.