‘Bears suck’: Justin Jones still feeling burn after loss to Pack

When he signed with the Bears in free agency in March, defensive tackle Justin Jones didn’t get what the Bears-Packers rivalry was all about

He does now.

“I feel like we owe them something,” Jones said, “because when we played them in Week 2, we left the field and [Packers fans] are saying, ‘Bears suck.’ I never really understood the rivalry until then. When I left Lambeau Field that second week, I’ve been waiting for this game.”

Some players, especially newcomers, almost feel obligated to placate fans with vitriol towards the Packers. But you could feel the anger in Jones’ voice. He means it. It took him one game — a 27-10 loss on Sept. 18 at Lambeau Field — to hate Packers fans.

“You can’t play this game against Green Bay and not have that type of anger for them,” Jones said. “I really didn’t get it Week 2, but after that game I feel it now.”

While Bears fans surely appreciate Jones’ sentiment, two factors stand in the way. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers practiced Thursday on a limited basis and is expected to start despite thumb and rib injuries. And the Bears’ defense has been wilting during a five-game losing streak.

In that stretch in fact, the Bears defense is allowing 29.0 points per game (tied for last in the NFL) and 378.0 yards per game (28th). Opposing quarterbacks have a 123.7 rating against the Bears in that span (last in the NFL). And the Bears have just one interception (31st).

And they’re short-handed. Defensive end Robert Quinn was traded in Week 8. Linebacker Roquan Smith was traded in Week 9. Safety. Eddie Jackson is on injured reserve and out for the season after injuring his foot last week against the Jets. And rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon and rookie safety Jaquan Brisker still are in concussion protocol after missing the Jets game.

Even with them, Rodgers was typically efficient in Week 2 — completing 19-of-25 passes for 234 yards two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 131.1 passer rating.

Without them, even a banged-up Rodgers has to be looking forward to this game, the way the Bears’ defense has been playing.

“I understand that,” Jones said. “We’ve addressed the issues that we’ve had. We’ve got a bunch of young guys. They’re preparing, ready to play 60 snaps. Ready to play hard and fast. [And] they’re not what they used to be either.”

That’s a fair point. The Packers are 4-8, with seven losses in their last eight games. Rodgers has battled through the thumb injury but not up to his normal standards — his 92.9 passer rating is well below the 111.9 and 121.5 ratings of 2021 and 2020. His nine interceptions in 12 games already are the most he’s thrown in a season since 2010.

The Bears also are juiced to be facing him.

“He’s a [bleep]-talker,” cornerback Jaylon Johnson said. “Like he said the last time he came here he was saying he owned us and talking to the fans a certain way. He’s a really fierce competitor. We’ve got to find a way to get that taste out of our mouth. You gotta put in action to be able to stop a talker like that. He’s one of the best in the league at talking and backing it up.”

Jones, of course, also wants Rodgers to play.

“For sure,” he said. “I want him to be out here to experience it.”

That sounds good now, but making it happen is a completely different thing. Jones needs his emotion about this game to be contagious.

“You just gotta remember what it was like, taking the ‘L’ back in Lambeau Field,” Jones said. “You gotta remember what that feeling was when we were walking off the field and what the fans were saying and chanting and laughing at us. You have to remember that. I don’t forget it.”

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