Almost three years ago now, a 3-5 hapless Bears team led by lame duck coach Marc Trestman went into Lambeau Field for a nationally televised primetime game against their biggest rival. For some, there were still hopes of salvaging a 2014 season that was quickly coming off of the rails.
All of that hope was quickly extinguished as the Packers jumped out to a big lead and lead 42-0 by halftime, embarrassing the league's charter franchise in the Bears in front of the country unlike ever before. It truly felt like the Bears were dead in the water, with no end in sight to disorganized madness. You don't get humiliated by the franchise most stack up to yours and come out with a different assessment.
On Thursday night - present day - with the Bears taking a familiar 35-14 beat down in their house of horrors, led by another lame duck coach in John Fox, the existential dread that has permeated this franchise in regards to Green Bay strangely wasn't there. On paper, Aaron Rodgers, who is now 16-4 against the Bears in his career, has always had their number. To an excruciatingly painful degree, in fact.
But it didn't feel as if the Packers outclassed Chicago in the fashion on Thursday in the way they normally do. It didn't feel like the Packers were an unstoppable finely tuned dynamo against their little brother Bears.
No, this time, it felt like the Bears fielded a roster good enough, or improved enough, to at least make it a game with their tormentor and break through before a fateful eventual dagger. It wasn't the Packers throwing the Bears around. The light was clearly visible at the end of the tunnel. This was a game on national television that showcased the Bears committing one of the biggest self-inflicting wounds they've made in their entire history: start Mike Glennon at quarterback.
It's not all on Glennon? Sure, it isn't. But this Bears squad can't compete with the Packers or isn't competent enough, you say?
Rodgers had four touchdown passes ... and threw for 179 yards. Think about that. This wasn't an evisceration. This was a negligible starter burying his average team before they even had a chance with turnovers. All the Packers and Rodgers had to do was show up and punch in.
Look at some of the scoring drives and scenarios here. Off of Glennon's first turnover on a sack fumble by Clay Matthews, where he held the ball too long as usual and on the first play of the game no less, the Packers had to go three yards for an eventual touchdown to Randall Cobb. Three. Yards.
Later, on the Bears' next possession, a miscommunication between Glennon and Cody Whitehair occurs and the Bears squander a gift of a drive that somehow came to the edge of the red zone.
Then, after a lightning delay that was almost surely some kind of higher power expressing he had seen enough of Glennon play professional quarterback, he sails a ball to a non-open receiver in Deonte Thompson for an interception. The very next play, with the Bears' will breaking off of three completely avoidable turnovers by the man who was praised as this efficient "game manager", there's Rodgers taking advantage of the sudden change launching a 58-yard trademark bomb to Jordy Nelson, effectively ending the game before it even started.
The Packers would score a touchdown on the next play to make it 21-0 and secure the eventual three touchdown margin of victory. It was not all through diligent work of their own. Not by a long shot.
Which is the very point here, because the pieces are in place for the Bears. At least, some are.
Chicago has a professional, solid offensive line. The front seven is generally good. The secondary, after years of being the emblem of humiliation following the Lovie Smith era, is adequate. The running game, led by "Rumble Pak and Joystick" i.e. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, can be special.
For as much talent as there is on this roster, they'll always be limited by Glennon - who leads all quarterbacks in turnovers with five interceptions and five fumbles in four games. 10 turnovers in four games. The mind boggles at such an "accomplishment." The Bears were never going to reach their full capability with Glennon. They might not even reach half capacity.
It's the plain truth and it's been as evident in as big of a waste of a month of football that Chicago will collectively want to wipe away from it's memory forever. Glennon should've never been the starter and in all likelihood, many will look back on these four games laughing that the "same old Bears" ever thought he was anything of tangible quality as a quarterback. And that's especially if Mitchell Trubisky turns out to be a good quarterback in his own right.
They say you can best gauge a locker room's feeling based on their post game quotes. Most of the time, players give a cliche platitude about needing to play better or staying united, regardless of the outcome. Thursday night's Bears locker room did not stick to cliches.
If anything, as CBS color commentator Tony Romo put it: "the players know" in regards to who's the quarterback that gives them the best chance to win. Another game of Glennon will not be wise for the morale of a team that knows it's clearly better than 35-14 and 1-3 overall. You risk mutiny otherwise.
Zach Miller felt the need to emphatically defend Glennon and take some of the necessary blame being heaped onto the passer.
"We all got whupped last night. Not just (Mike) Glennon. We've all got to do a better job of helping him out," Miller said.
Andy Phillips, the kicker who you might remember the Bears cut before the preseason started, said to put Trubisky in because he "works harder" and that "he is ready" on Twitter mid-game. An interesting stance from someone that spent close time with the team before he was released.
Finally, most importantly, the always insightful Akiem Hicks took an indirect shot of his own at Chicago's quarterback situation. The defensive end and captain was asked about what went wrong against the Packers and while he didn't directly reference it, nor did you know who he aimed his sharp words for (Fox? Ryan Pace?), everyone knew exactly what he meant.
"The changes we need to make, hopefully we make those changes. Hopefully we put our team in a position to win," said Hicks.
That change is the shift under center from Glennon to the actual future in Trubisky. That is a captain calling out higher team leadership for leaving the team in the dust in the wake of incompetent quarterback play. An indictment of this exhausting charade ever being allowed to happen and continue. That, indeed, is the straw that broke the camel's back of the Glennon dream in Chicago.
The 2017 season is not yet lost for these Bears: provided Trubisky takes his rightful reins as quarterback the next time the team takes the field against the Vikings on "Monday Night Football." A clean slate will be offered with the prospects and hope of a young quarterback developing. If Trubisky doesn't start that game, you can only imagine the discord that will ensue in the fallout.
The Bears players know who the better quarterback is. Most everyone in town knows it. The last domino to fall here are those pulling the strings up top. They better have a quick trigger finger here as one of the most pivotal switches and decisions in franchise history awaits.
End this exercise in futility. It's Trubisky time.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is an editor for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.