No. 1: More center field play for Chicago Bears’ safety Eddie Jackson
Those who seldom tuned in to watch the Chicago Bears last season effectively told on themselves when suggesting that Eddie Jackson suffered some seismic droppage in play from 2018 to 2019.
It almost gets lost on the naked eye just how quickly Jackson was able to master the strong safety position at the NFL level. In 2018, he defended 15 passes (No. 5 in the NFL) and was named an All-Pro First Team selection in just his second year. In the Super Bowl era, only nine other safeties can match success at that rate.
Last year, Jackson was stellar alongside Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, allowing just a 49.9 quarterback rating, and in the process, shook fear in enough quarterbacks that they only targeted him 2.6 times per game. But, he played out of his best position a season ago.
With the signing of Tashaun Gipson, Jackson will be free to roam centerfield more often, where he can use his range and awareness to create the types of plays Chicago so sorely missed in 2019.
We’ve seen this movie play out with Gipson before: just three seasons ago, he and Barry Church did their part in ensuring the Jaguars’ two-star cornerbacks, Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye’s efforts weren’t left by the wayside.
Together, they formed a No. 2 defense in the NFL and came to a few plays shy of a Super Bowl appearance. Church and Gipson were transposable, in a sense that one of them could play in the box, and one could help anchor the run.
On film, Jackson put it on display through world-class instincts and the adroit ability to break on the ball quickly. To put a number to it: in November 2018 alone, Eddie Jackson produced three touchdowns by himself. In the final month of the 2019 season, the Bears offense as a whole only produced six.
In watching from afar, Jackson’s competitiveness has always appeared to be like that of those
who built the Chicago heritage. The ball-hawk will be free to swoop in throughout 2019-20, and for the Bears, that’s a cause for celebration.