Chicago Bears Slump or Jump: Eddie Jackson
By Usayd Koshul
As the Chicago Bears 2018 offseason continues, there is no doubt that they have gotten better on paper.
Being one of the youngest teams in the NFL, the Bears have plenty of players at multiple positions that seem like they’re waiting to take take the next step. Today, we examine whether or not Eddie Jackson can take the next step in 2018.
We’ve already examined whether or not Mitchell Trubisky, Jordan Howard, and Tarik Cohen can take the next step in 2018.
Jackson might just be the steal of the 2017 NFL Draft. For those who are unaware, he broke his leg during his final season in college, which led to him falling to the fourth-round and ultimately into the Bears laps.
2017 season recap:
In sixteen games, Jackson recovered three fumbles, defended six passes, had two interceptions, and fifty-three tackles.
Jackson has now established himself as a part of the Chicago Bears for the foreseeable future. It’s clear that he’s got what it takes to be a leader on a defense that is clearly looking to shape its identity during the 2018 season.
While he was a regular starter, the biggest game that helped Jackson get noticed was Week Seven against the Carolina Panthers where he returned a fumble and an interception for touchdowns, single-handedly leading the Bears to victory. As the season went on, it was clear that his play improved. He had a few strips on big-name receivers such as A.J. Green, while also effectively holding up in coverage.
Yet another mid-round gem that Ryan Pace managed to snag in the draft, what must Jackson to do have an even better 2018 season?
Jackson may not be the fastest guy on the field but he’s not afraid to get physical. Another thing that he does very well is defending bigger targets such as tight ends. This is significant, especially for the 2018 season, as the Bears will constantly see big targets such as Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Evan Engram, and Kyle Rudolph.
However, Jackson’s biggest asset which will help him have a breakout season is his versatility. In Vic Fangio’s system, versatility at any position is something that is valued. During his college career at Alabama, Jackson originally started his career as a cornerback, before switching to safety full-time during his sophomore season.
In year two, it’s also fair to expect Jackson to be able to understand coverages more, meaning he’ll be able to make more plays on the ball, while also getting more involved in stopping the run game. There are times where he gets caught up in trying to diagnose the play to the extent where he gets beat deep. While this was not the case often in 2017, one could argue that the Bears strong front seven getting to the quarterback is what could have potentially bailed him out.
Jackson is someone that showed flashes of being the Chicago Bears answer at the safety position. As the season went on, there was no denying the fact that he improved. For a position that’s been a problem for the Bears since Mike Brown was released in 2008, it appears as if the next best safety has arrived.