History favors the Chicago Bears in weird streak vs. Green Bay

Jan 31, 2022; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears-Head Coach Matt Eberflus speaks during a Press Conference Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 31, 2022; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears-Head Coach Matt Eberflus speaks during a Press Conference Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

For the most part, Chicago Bears fans took the news of Rodgers’ return to the Pack pretty well. Some saw this coming weeks ahead of time, others don’t care because they want the Bears to take down Rodgers, and some would prefer Green Bay dives further into cap hell than get a boatload of draft capital to rebuild.

While the reception of the news of Rodgers’ return was lukewarm at best, I saw many fans resign themselves to the fact that for yet another season, the Bears are due to be swept by their archrivals. However, a trend I noticed over the past few head coaches gave me some pause to reconsider this assumed fact, and as I dove deeper into it I found this trend goes back further than I could even imagine.

Nine straight Chicago Bears head coaches have at least split with GB in their first year coaching the team.

Nagy. Fox. Trestman. Smith. Jauron. Wannstedt. Ditka. Armstrong. Pardee. Dating back to Jack Pardee’s hire in 1975, only 8 years removed from George Halas’ final year coaching the Bears, every Chicago Bears head coach has split or swept the Packers in their first full year coaching the team (Pro Football Reference).

In fact, of the 11 coaches who have coached the Chicago Bears since Halas retired in 1967, Abe Gibron (1972-1974) is the only one who did not beat the Packers at least once in their inaugural season coaching.

The more surprising nugget about this odd streak is that only three of these eleven coaches posted an overall winning record in their Bears coaching tenure: Ditka, Smith, and yes, Matt Nagy. We’ll have to table the fact that Matt Nagy is the third most successful Bears head coach since George Halas for another day.

Additionally, Matt Nagy is the only coach since Halas himself who posted a winning record in their first year with the Bears. Only three others (Dooley, Ditka, Trestman) finished with a .500 record in their first full season (Ditka technically began coaching in 1982, but only coached 9 games making 1983 his first full year).

So, what does this mean for Matt Eberflus and the 2022 Bears? Looking at historical data, it means he’s likely to lead the Bears to 7.45 wins, but that one of those wins will most likely be against Rodgers and the Packers.

The last thing I wanted to mention as we look forward to this new era of Bears football under Matt Eberflus is his coaching background. Eberflus obviously hails from the Marinelli/Smith tree of coaches. What he brings to the Bears first and foremost is a return to the discipline and toughness of those 2000s teams that made runs to the Super Bowl and NFC Championship Game.

The logic behind this hire must have included estimating how successful those teams would have been with great QB play and projecting how Justin Fields at his ceiling would be the perfect complement for that type of defense.

As it pertains to the Packers and dethroning Aaron Rodgers, history suggests a return to this culture and the defensive scheme could yield dividends in the W-L column.

The Chicago Bears going 6-2 against the Packers in Rodgers’ final NFL chapter sounds like a dream come true and one that every Bears fan would be running to sign up for. Unfortunately, while Lovie did go 6-2 against Favre in Favre’s final four years, he was also 2-8 against Rodgers in Rodgers’ first 5 years starting – and Rodgers didn’t even hit his prime until the tail end of Lovie’s tenure.

There is a lot to be seen with regards to how Eberflus will try to correct the current course of the Bears-Packers rivalry. History suggests there may be some early struggles as he changes the culture and gets the buy-in from his players, but at least for this upcoming 2022 season, Bears fans can look forward to not being swept by their arch-rivals for the fourth straight year.

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