The Chicago Bears signed Tashaun Gipson, who was released by the Houston Texans. What does it mean for Eddie Jackson?
After we had just written that Deon Bush survived the weekend as the starter across from Eddie Jackson, we learned that the Chicago Bears signed Tashaun Gipson. By all accounts, Gipson is looked at as the starter across from Jackson until we hear otherwise.
However, it is worth noting what this signing means. When the Bears let Haha Clinton-Dix walk in free agency, it seemed to be passed off as a smart moved. Eddie Jackson was a Defensive Player of the Year candidate in 2018 but had to move into the box more to suit the skillset of Clinton-Dix in 2019. This led to fewer plays overall and much fewer turnovers.
In letting go of Clinton-Dix, it gave the Bears a chance to add an actual box safety and push Jackson back to his single-high free safety role.
The signing of Gipson says the opposite, though.
Gipson is mostly known as a free safety. According to PFF, Gipson has played the free safety role on 49%, 51%, and 56% of his snaps over the past three years, respectively. Combined, he has played 52% of his snaps as a deep field safety over the past three seasons.
Last season Clinton-Dix played free safety 62% according to PFF. So, if Gipson is in a normal role of 52% high for him, it would be a drop-off from Clinton-Dix.
Still, Eddie Jackson played 72% of his snaps as a deep safety in 2018 and dropped to 51% in 2019. Clinton-Dix playing 62% and Jackson 51% last year shows an 11% overlap. That would be expected with Gipson, if not even seeing more two-high looks.
Still, the reality of this move is that Jackson is going to play in the same role in 2020 that he played in 2019. His role in 2018 with Vic Fangio is over.
According to PFF, Gipson ranked 73rd in missed tackle rate and had nine missed tackles in 2019. Clinton-Dix missed eight last year but still ranked 28th in tackle efficiency.
If the Bears got a safety less trustworthy in the box, the very likely scenario is that Gipson plays closer to the 62% deep that Clinton-Dix played rather than the Bears changing to his 52% rate over the past three years. This means Jackson close to 49% in the box.
If you wanted to see Eddie Jackson in a different role than 2019, you are likely to be disappointed. This signing shows that Chuck Pagano liked what he saw, and wants a similar Clinton-Dix replacement, not a more physical box player.