No NFL team has more interceptions this year than the Bears’ 25, while no NFL starting quarterback has allowed fewer interceptions than the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, who has been picked off just once in 495 throws.
So who has the edge?
Last week the Bears got four picks off Rams Pro Bowl QB Jared Goff, who had thrown just two interceptions in the previous six games. Also last week, Rodgers, the long-time Bears killer, established the league record for consecutive passes without an interception, which currently stands at 368.
“That doesn’t excite me, I’ll tell you that,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said of Rodgers’ record and the prospect of facing him. “He protects the football, and he has extreme confidence in how he does it. And he’s been doing it for a long time. So the No. 1 thing we have to do is try to break that.
“But there’s a reason why it’s so hard. He’s seen a lot of different defenses come at him. He’s obviously seen our defensive scheme. So it’ll be a big-time challenge for us. But I think our guys will be up for it coming off of the way they just played against the Rams. Their confidence will be high. But we just have to keep going each week with that.”
Rodgers didn’t attain the record for interception avoidance by dinking and dunking or by being a game manager. He’s way more “grip it and rip it,” than “take what they give you.”
“You don’t even want to call him conservative,” said Bears CB Prince Amukamara, whose three interceptions have tied his career high and are third on the team behind CB Kyle Fuller’s seven and S Eddie Jackson’s five. “He just takes calculated chances, and he’s very precise, and the receivers help him out.”
In his last four starts against the Bears, Rodgers is 4-0 with 10 TD passes and no interceptions. That includes Week One this year when he wasn’t intercepted and threw three TD passes in the fourth quarter of a 24-23 comeback victory. In the 12 regular-season games against the Bears since 2011 in which he’s started and finished, Rodgers is 11-1 with 36 touchdown passes and three interceptions.
So his precision this year isn’t a surprise to the Bears.
“They’re aware of that,” Fangio said of his players. “He’s done that every year. He’s got the highest quarterback rating (103.4) in the history of the NFL by a wide margin, and that’s a big reason why, he’s never thrown a lot of picks.”
The Bears will be without starting nickel CB Bryce Callahan (broken foot) Sunday, so nine-year veteran Sherrick McManis should get most of those snaps, although DeAndre Houston-Carson could get some work as well. McManis, who has one interception in limited playing time, is primarily known as a standout on special teams. But he started four times as the nickel in 2015 and saw some playing time on defense as a dime corner in the first month of this season.
“He was coming in as a sixth DB (earlier this year), and we were dong a couple different things with him, rushing him and obviously dropping him into coverage,” Fangio said. “Now, he’ll be the nickel, and that’s an entirely different job. He played there for about the first half of the 2015 season and then, when we inserted Bryce, he became a mentor to Bryce all along the way, and it has continued up until this point. I think he’ll be ready to play.”
Rodgers will be, too.