Chicago Bears first team All-Pro safety Eddie Jackson was selected in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Bears, who have had trouble finding a play making safety since Mike Brown, struck gold with this pick. Jackson is a ball hawk and a risk taker. An argument could be made while Khalil Mack is undoubtedly the best player on the Chicago Bears defense, Eddie Jackson might be the heartbeat of the defense.
There is a visible difference when Jackson is either on or off the field. If Jackson was healthy, the Bears would have beat the Eagles in the wildcard round.
Jackson first made his impact known against the Carolina Panthers in 2017. Jackson himself outscored Carolina this game 14-3.
This was the first game where fans saw flashes of Mike Brown in his playmaking ability. While Carolina was running a shovel option early in the first quarter, receiver Curtis Samuel fumbled the ball on the play and there was a fight for the ball soon after. Enter Eddie Jackson:
This play was the first glimpse of Jackson becoming a special player. He has a knack for the football and always seems to be around the play as it develops.
There are players who have that “it” factor, and Jackson is one of them. He is a game changer, and a player offenses game plan around. That’s how dangerous he is.
Fast forward to 2018, Eddie Jackson is continuing to make plays. He had interceptions in consecutive weeks against the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
These interceptions were impressive, as it showed the range Jackson has. Not many players are gifted with this type of range, that’s what makes him so dangerous to opposing offenses.
While Jackson’s range and playmaking abilities have been on display, he then continued to show us he can become a gamechanger. November 18th, 2018, the Bears were starting to draw national attention.
Bears fans knew how good this team was, but from a national perspective they weren’t proven. Their matchup vs the Minnesota Vikings was flexed to Sunday Night Football, and Eddie Jackson decided to show out.
Primetime brings out the best in football players, and Jackson was ready to take that step. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Bears lead 14-6. The Vikings had a crucial drive coming up, as they haven’t been able to do much against Chicago’s defense all night. This drive had to result in points, and Jackson made sure that didn’t happen.
As Kirk Cousins stared down his receiver, Jackson had plenty of time to break over from his coverage and make a play on the ball. His return after the interception also comes natural, as he used to be used as a punt returner at Alabama as well. This play ultimately ended the Vikings hopes.
Fast forward a short week, and the Bears are back in primetime on Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions. Late in the fourth quarter, the game is tied with the Lions driving down the field. This is the perfect drive for them to potentially chew the clock and take points leaving the Bears down with no timeouts and their backup quarterback. Jackson had other plans:
This play exemplifies what Eddie Jackson is. A game changer. This play is man coverage, and Jackson starts off by playing center field. As the play is snapped, Jackson knows he can bait quarterback Matt Stafford by making it look like his tight end is wide open on the check down. By the time Stafford makes the read, Jackson is already breaking on the ball. Stafford never had a chance on this play, and that’s because Jackson is just too smart and too good at his position.
Finally, his last interception of the season couldn’t have come at a better time. While Jackson didn’t do anything crazy on this play, he always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Aaron Rodgers had 402 consecutive passes without throwing an interception, finally he met Eddie Jackson. Jackson finished the season with six interceptions, three touchdowns, one sack, 51 tackles, and an All-Pro nod.
It’s incredible how good this Bears team has become, and a lot of the credit needs to be given to Ryan Pace for his late round findings. Their core is young, and they are set up to succeed for a long time. If Jackson continues to play at this level alongside Khalil Mack, this defense can be special for a very, very long time.