Bears Rewind: Looking Back at Bears Head Coaching Debuts Against the Packers

Picking out a happy Bears Rewind during Packers week is a challenging task. Last season I went with a 2006 victory over the Packers from the abbreviated glory days of the Lovie Smith era, and the 55-14 beatdown the Packers gave the Bears in November of 2014 (it was fitting at the time).

For this week’s installment of the Bears Rewind, I’m going to do things a little bit differently. In honor of Matt Eberflus’ first Packers week as the head coach of the Bears, we’re going to take a look back at some previous first matchups between new Bears head coaches and the Packers.

Let’s start with the most recent and work our way backwards a bit.

Matt Nagy – September 9, 2018 (Packers 24, Bears 23)

Matt Nagy had the unfortunate privilege of making his Bears head coaching debut against the Packers in front of 78,000 fans at Lambeau Field in primetime on Sunday Night Football. You’ll remember that one (Luis: I do! I was there!); it was Khalil Mack’s first game in a Bears uniform, and he stole the show early.

Aaron Rodgers was knocked out of the game early with a knee injury, Mack picked off DeShone Kizer and took it to the house for a pick-six, and the Bears led 17-0 at halftime.

Rodgers came back in the second half, and the Packers outscored the Bears 24-6 the rest of the way, with Rodgers picking apart the Bears’ secondary, going 20-30 for 280 yards and three touchdowns.

It was a perfect microcosm of Nagy’s tenure in Chicago; a little bit of hope and then a turd burger the rest of the way. Nagy would get a win against the Packers later that season but never again after that, finishing 1-7 against Green Bay during his four years as the head coach of the Bears.

John Fox – September 13, 2015 (Packers 31, Bears 23)

Like Nagy, John Fox made his Bears head coaching debut against the Packers in Week 1 of the 2015 season. Like Nagy, Fox would lose that game, watching his team blow a halftime lead against Chicago’s long-standing boogeyman, Aaron Rodgers. He really does own the Bears, as much as it stings to admit.

After leading 13-10 at the half, the Bears watched Aaron Rodgers flip the switch and orchestrate three touchdown drives in the second half en route to a victory.

The Bears would go into Green Bay that season and beat the Packers and spoil Brett Favre’s jersey retirement night (good, prick), but that would be Fox’s only win against the Packers and the last Bears win at Lambeau Field. Fox would finish 1-5 against Green Bay in his three years as the head coach of the Bears.

Ah, good times:

Marc Trestman – November 4, 2013 (Bears 27, Packers 20)

I’ve pretty much blocked out everything from the Marc Trestman era of Bears football, and I like it that way because it was the most forgettable era of Bears football in my life (and that’s saying a lot). However, Trestman did beat the Packers in his first meeting, a 27-20 victory over Green Bay at Soldier Field.

Josh McCown threw touchdown strikes to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte scored a touchdown, and Robbie Gould hit a pair of field goals in the winning effort. Rodgers went down early with an injury, so technically, the Bears beat Seneca Wallace, who was 11-for-19 for 114 yards and an interception.

When Trestman got his first taste of Aaron Rodgers later that season, it turned into one of the worst moments in Bears history, and I don’t even need to paint the picture for you on that one. But, if I had to relive this one, so do you.

Trestman would lose both games against the Packers next season to finish up 1-3 against Green Bay in his two-year stint on the Bears sideline.

Lovie Smith – September 19, 2004 (Bears 21, Packers 10)

Lovie Smith placed an emphasis on beating the Packers, and he succeeded for a while, including his first go-round with Green Bay in September of 2004.

Lovie’s defense held Brett Favre and the Packers to 252 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions, and the offense leaned on Thomas Jones (152 yards and a touchdown) en route to a 21-10 victory over Green Bay at Lambeau Field.

The Lovie Smith era started with the Bears having some success against Green Bay, winning seven of the first nine meetings between the two. Still, it finished like the rest, with the Bears losing nine of the next 10, and Smith finished 8-11 in nine seasons as the Bears’ head coach.

Dick Jauron also won his debut against the Packers, but Dave Wannstedt and even the great Mike Ditka lost their first meeting with Green Bay. Here’s a look at how Bears head coaches have fared in their debuts against the Packers and overall since Mike Ditka was hired in 1982 to be the head coach of the Bears:

Bears Head Coaches in First Game vs. Packers Since 1982

  • Matt Nagy: L (GB 24, CHI 23)
  • John Fox: L (GB 31, CHI 23)
  • Marc Trestman: W (CHI 27, GB 20)
  • Lovie Smith: W (CHI 21, GB 10)
  • Dick Jauron: W (CHI 14, GB 13)
  • Dave Wannstedt: L (GB 17, CHI 3)
  • Mike Ditka: L (GB 31, CHI 28)
  • Bears Head Coaches vs. Packers Since 1982

  • Matt Nagy (2018-21): 1-7
  • John Fox (2015-17): 1-5
  • Marc Trestman (2013-14): 1-3
  • Lovie Smith (2004-12): 8-11
  • Dick Jauron (1999-03): 2-8
  • Dave Wannstedt (1993-98): 1-11
  • Mike Ditka (1983-92): 15-4
  • Let’s hope that Matt Eberflus’ “just another game” approach pays off for him on Sunday night and as long as he’s here, because I’m pretty tired of Aaron Rodgers being correct in his claim that he and the Packers own the Bears.

    written by

    Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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