Eddie Jackson compares and contrasts Chicago Bears Defensive Coordinators
Making game-breaking plays as a safety isn’t the easiest task, especially in today’s offense-driven, pass-happy NFL. However, with three NFL seasons as his testimony, Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson has been more than up to the task.
Since entering the league, no player has scored more defensive touchdowns (5), and he became one of just 10 safeties in the Super Bowl era to make an All-Pro First Team in one of his first two seasons.
In a recent NFL Game Pass film session, Jackson dished out what he sees pre-snap, how instincts drive his game and the biggest difference between former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and new play-caller Chuck Pagano.
“Just play more man-to-man. Coach Pagano, he likes playing more man-to-man, especially on third downs. He’s like, ‘it’s our guys versus their guys.’
I can cover it. You know, I’m not scared of covering receivers, I don’t care who it is. It’s just my mentality cause I played cornerback. So, he just trusted us enough, like ‘alright, you want to cover it? Go on ahead and just show me.’ And we didn’t let him down. And as safeties we went out there and covered receivers.”
The Chicago Bears have struck gold with Eddie Jackson
Jackson’s versatility was one of the calling cards for why he’s been underrated over the past few seasons. In 2019, Jackson saw his role change with the addition of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. He transitioned from the “ball hawk” role as a playmaking free safety to more of a run-support defender. Per PFF, Pagano used him in the box on 29 percent of his snaps, the most since 2017 when he played 26 percent of his snaps in the box.
This suggests that he was more of a run-stopper on first and second downs, and then, he and the rest of the secondary played man-to-man with the chance to get off the field.
Whether or not this plan is foolproof is a discussion in itself. The Bears’ opposing passer rating went from 72.9 in 2018 to 85.2 in 2019. And Chicago’s most recent Draft suggests man-to-man could be in their plans even more in 2020. They drafted press-specialist Jaylen Johnson and bulked up on hybrid cornerbacks and depth in general.
Statistically speaking, the play calling differences between Fangio and Pagano weren’t wholly different. Blitz percentages were close to the same, and Jackson, personally, showed that he could excel in whatever role he was asked to fulfill.
Beyond that, Eddie Jackson appears due for a resurgent season in 2020. The best of his traits weren’t used at strong safety in 2019, but this year, he’s primed for more snaps at his natural position. And if all that fails, at least we can look forward to him potentially playing some offense?