Bears In-Foe: Packers fans are not R-E-L-A-Xing about offense

Bears In-Foe: Packers fans are not R-E-L-A-Xing about offense

It got to the point in Sunday’s 30-16 loss to Dallas at Lambeau Field that Aaron Rodgers was being booed. Or maybe it was the Packers’ offense in general. But two years after telling those same fans to “R-E-L-A-X” after a 1-2 start, days before he made them in a 38-17 surgical procedure on the Bears at Soldier Field, the two-time MVP doesn’t sound very comfortable, either.

After starting 6-0 a year ago, the Packers are 7-8 in the regular season. The NFL’s all-time leader in passer rating at 103.5 (“K-HITS!!!!”) stands 20th in the league in that category this year (88.4) on the heels of a 92.7 rating in 2015, Rodgers’ worst since his first year as the starter.

His accuracy has been off (60.2 percent, ranking 25th), and while he still has a 10-to-4 touchdown pass-to-interception ratio, he has six picks in his last seven games and has gone a career-high 12 games without throwing for 300 yards. I know, I know. It’s the last thing Bears fans want to hear heading north for yet another prime time game there. But sandwiched around the 55-14 embarrassment two years ago have been a pair of wins: when Shea McClellin broke his collarbone in 2013, and the pedestrian (for Rodgers) 22-of-43 Thanksgiving night win last November, in which he threw for only 202 yards, a Tracy Porter pick and one touchdown.

The postgame thought that night involved being thankful Jordy Nelson and his torn ACL weren’t around to burn The Beloved like he usually does. But Nelson is back now, and while he has five scoring receptions in as many games, he’s caught only 26 passes, with a 12-yard average. And Vic Fangio’s defense could well be without Tracy Porter (knee), who had the interception last year and had four other pass breakups, something no one else had ever done in a game to Rodgers.

[RELATED: Bears In-Foe: Pack’s defensive backfield in motion]

Randall Cobb leads the club with 28 catches, but with a 10.5 average. Davante Adams, who struggled to fill Nelson’s shoes a year ago, has three TD’s among his 15 grabs, but enters the week under concussion protocol. GM Ted Thompson took a rare dip into free agency to address the lack of a threat at tight end, but Jared Cook’s been sidelined after spraining an ankle three weeks ago.

The other urgent issue facing Rodgers and company is at running back. Eddie Lacy worked out with P90X guru Tony Horton to get in his best shape since his rookie season (after reportedly spinning the sacle around 250 last season). But Lacy sprained his ankle two games ago, tried to battle his way through it Sunday, and while averaging five yards a carry, is also averaging just 72 yards a game. The added twist is backup James Starks’ Sunday morning knee surgery. Promoting undrafted rookie Don Jackson from the practice squad could be an option after Mike McCarthy tried to get by sprinkling Cobb and fellow wideout Ty Montgomery into Sunday’s backfield. Aaron Ripkowski has replaced John Kuhn for an occasional handoff at fullback.

Then there’s the Josh Sitton-less offensive line. Lane Taylor has slid it at left guard, between David Bakhtiari and center JC Tretter, while T.J. Lang and Marian Central High School product Bryan Bulaga. The latter left Sunday’s game early with a back injury but in the past has found a way to grind through. While Sitton may have been the financial sacrifice with Lang and Tretter heading towards free agency, Bakhtiari was re-upped before the season before hitting the market.

McCarthy took back the play-calling this season, but is being criticized up north for remaining too conservative. After kicking field goals on fourth-and-short in Sunday’s loss, the Pack went the next five possessions before scoring their lone touchdown of the day with just seven minutes left versus a defense that’s not exactly the 1985 Bears. Green Bay enters this game 25th in passing yards, 26th in total yards, 17th in points per game, but first in third-down percentage. An odd mix, sort of what the Bears are going through. But we know the weapons, and that quarterback, are present. Now the Bears hope they don’t figure things out for four more days.

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout is quickly becoming an icon in American sports. The two-time American League MVP is enjoying another dominant season batting .335 with 23 home runs and 48 RBI.

On Tuesday, he took a swing at what Bears fans may consider a shocking NFL prediction.

“I’ve got the Browns having a better record than the Bears,” Trout told a radio reporter, according to the Los Angeles Times. Trout's comments were made in response the reporter "talking up" Chicago.

Both the Browns and Bears have had productive offseasons that involved headline-grabbing acquisitions on offense. Cleveland drafted QB Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick, traded for WR Jarvis Landry, signed RB Carlos Hyde and drafted a backfield mate for him in Georgia's Nick Chubb. They added potential lockdown corner Denzel Ward with the fourth overall pick, too. Add all that to a motivated Josh Gordon ready to contribute for a full season, and there's good reason to be excited in Cleveland.

Still, it's hard imagining Trout can be that confident in a team that's won only one game over the last two seasons. And let's not forget what GM Ryan Pace has done this offseason, one that's been praised by analysts from all corners of the NFL universe. From new coach Matt Nagy to free-agent WR Allen Robinson and all the skill players in between, the Bears are ready to make a legitimate run in the NFC North.

Trout doesn't strike out much in the major leagues, but this prediction feels like it could be a back-straining whiff.

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is former Bears star Matt Forte going to be the team’s new running backs coach?

For now, that’s Charles London’s job, who was hired to head coach Matt Nagy’s staff earlier this year.

But on Tuesday night, Forte tweeted that he would like a coaching spot with Chicago sometime in the near future.

Serving as evidence, the now-retired running back responded to a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, which announced the Broncos’ hiring of former linebacker Demarcus Ware as a “pass-rush consultant on a part-time basis.” Forte tweeted at the Bears, saying that he is “available” to take on a similar role to Ware’s new Denver gig.

Forte’s tweet was relatively cryptic, and he never specified exactly what type of job he would want with the Bears. After finishing up a storied career this past season and solidifying his name as a Bears legend, Forte has proven that he could easily coach young running backs or even wide receivers at some point.

But isn’t this all just a joke?

Forte silenced the doubters by tweeting “I wasn’t joking” as a response to an article saying that his desire for a new occupation with the Bears was simply a gag. The former workhorse was also intrigued by a fan’s tweet asking “Coach Forte??”

The mere thought of having Forte back in Chicago with the Bears’ coaching staff sent fans on Twitter into a frenzy. In April, Forte came back to Halas Hall to ink his name on a one-day contract, successfully allowing him to retire as a Bear. Now, Forte wants a lengthier stay in the Windy City.

Ware’s role with Denver is not extensive by any means and, according to Schefter, he will work a pretty scattered schedule with Broncos players. What Forte’s role would look like with the Bears is completely unknown if his plan to coach becomes a reality.

Forte has the running back credentials to take on a coaching position. In eight seasons with the Bears, Forte racked up a combined 8,602 rushing yards, second to only the great Walter Payton. Forte’s 4,116 receiving yards as a running back, 12,718 yards from scrimmage, 24 games with 100 rushing yards and 25 games with at least 150 yards from scrimmage also ranks second behind Payton.

Maybe this will be a new development in Chicago’s offseason plans, but there is no real talk of bringing one of the team’s all-time leading rushers back to the team as of right now.

Last month, NBC Sports Chicago announced Forte will be joining the network as a Bears game day studio analyst for the upcoming 2018 NFL season. And we're not joking about that.