Chicago Bears

Friendly rivals? Not Ditka-Gregg, but no less intense

Friendly rivals? Not Ditka-Gregg, but no less intense

Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011
Posted: 11:03 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

It is difficult to have a hate-filled rivalry when the two central figures in the building drama get along. Quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers are in touch with each other away from Fields Soldier and Lambeau.

Yeah, I texted him after the divisional game in Atlanta and said good game, Cutler said. Well have a friendly little banter.

All of the banter wont be totally friendly when the Bears host their greatest rival next Sunday at Soldier Field at 2 p.m.

Yet where once the rivalry was marked by dirty football, with gridiron thugs like Charles Martin body-slamming Jim McMahon or Ken Stills late-hitting Matt Suhey (and some Bears perpetrating mayhem on the occasional Packer), and coarse exchanges between a Mike Ditka and Forrest Gregg, now the antipathy is tinged with respect.

We dont like them, said center Olin Kreutz. Theres a tremendous amount of respect for each other. But it usually works out that the guy you respect the most is the guy you hate the most.

For safety Danieal Manning, Its a love-hate thing. All the players know each other, the coaches know each other, the owners know each other.

We respect them because they are so good. And thats part of why we dont like them.

When the Bears lost to the Packers back on Jan. 2 in Green Bay, they missed a chance to eliminate the Packers from the playoffs. As they left the field that night, the Bears had a sense that they would see the Packers again.

We did, Kreutz said. We knew that if we won and they play like theyre capable of playing, we might see them again.

Finally, the NFCs two best

The Bears win over the Seattle Seahawks and the Packers road wins over Philadelphia and Atlanta have brought together what can only be called the two best teams in the NFC, critics notwithstanding.

The Packers may have stumbled at times this season (perhaps not surprising with their franchise quarterback suffering two concussions and one-fourth of a roster winding up on IR).

So have the Bears, losing those three of the first seven.

The Bears offensive line and the Packers running game have a lot in common: weaknesses that supposedly would undo each.

Neither did. And the NFC juggernauts in Atlanta, New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia werent better than these two.

There was a lot of good teams, said defensive end Julius Peppers. We earned this. Both of us earned this opportunity to be right where we are.

Well said.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information

Why the Bears will play Mitch Trubisky with the No. 1 offense against Tennessee

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USA TODAY

Why the Bears will play Mitch Trubisky with the No. 1 offense against Tennessee

Mitch Trubisky has been excellent in his first two preseason games, completing 73 percent of his passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. But that production has come with third and fourth stringers on offense, and against defenses with players mostly from the same fringy units. 

It’s with that backdrop that the Bears will have Trubisky start the second half of Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans running their first-team offense and, hopefully, facing a first-team defense. 

“I think his performance has been good,” coach John Fox said. “To get a true evaluation and for us to look at him, you need to do this and I think most people in the league would agree and do this.”

Fox said the decision to get Trubisky work with the first-team offense — as he did Wednesday during practice — doesn’t change the team’s quarterback depth chart. Mike Glennon is still the starter, Mark Sanchez is still the backup and Trubisky is still No. 3. 

“Right now Mike Glennon’s the starter,” Fox said. “He’s going to start preseason game 3, which is usually a pretty good indicator where you start the season.”

Glennon said it’s clear to him the depth chart hasn’t changed, and stuck to saying his focus remains on “what I can control.” Fox, when asked if he would be open to having Trubisky be his starting quarterback in Week 1, said he didn’t want to get into hypotheticals and reiterated that Glennon remains the team’s starter. 

If the Bears stick to that depth chart, though, Sunday will be the last opportunity for a “true evaluation” of Trubisky before he eventually takes over for Glennon as the team’s quarterback. This, seemingly, is a chance for Trubisky to speed up his timeline if he shows in that evaluation he’s capable of succeeding against a defense full of players he could actually face in the regular season. 

Perhaps the evaluation goes well for Trubisky. Perhaps it doesn’t. But even if this is only for evaluative purposes, Sunday represents Trubisky’s best shot to show he’s ready to start in the NFL sooner rather than later. 

“I would say I’ve shown them what I can do, I think I’ve progressed faster than they expected I would, but I’ve still got a long ways to go and I know that,” Trubisky said. “But I think I’ve shown that I’ve earned these reps and I just need to continue to get better each day.”

For one day Mitch Trubisky wasn't the best quarterback at Bears practice...because Peyton Manning showed up

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USA TODAY

For one day Mitch Trubisky wasn't the best quarterback at Bears practice...because Peyton Manning showed up

Move over, Mitch Trubisky. You may have looked stellar in your first two professional games, but there was an even better quarterback at Bears practice on Wednesday.

Future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, who played under Bears head coach John Fox for three seasons, showed up at Halas Hall to chat with the staff and quarterbacks. In one of the photographs below Manning is also chatting with wide receivers Cam Meredith and kevin White.

It was only one practice, but it can't hurt having a presence like Manning's in Trubisky's ear, especially on a day when the No. 2 overall pick took first-team quarterback reps.