The Chicago Bears expect more out of Eddie Jackson
With two games left in the 2020 NFL season, Eddie Jackson does not have a single interception. Many fans will point out that had there not been a couple of questionable penalties throughout the year that the number would be higher. It is hard enough to get interceptions, let alone when you have to do it twice. Still, the Chicago Bears paid Jackson due to his ball hawk ability, and after 10 interceptions in three years, he has two games to add to that column.
Of course, interceptions are not everything. Jackson is having a career year in forced fumbles and is having a better than usual year for missed tackles, the typical weakness in his game.
Still, while there is no single number, stat, or even play that could tell us whether a free safety is having an up or down year, one of the more telling stats is the number of explosive plays in the passing game allowed by the Chicago Bears.
According to Sharp Football Stats, the Bears have allowed 47 explosive passes this year. That ranks them 23rd in the NFL in giving up the big pass.
In 2019, the Bears allowed 41 in two more games and ranked fourth in the NFL. It is no surprise that they ranked first in 2018, allowing 42 explosive passes.
This cannot be all on Jackson. However, it is also worth noting that according to PFF, Jackson is allowing 15.4 yards per reception in 2020. That is up from 11.1 in 2019 and 10.7 in 2018.
So, the lack of interceptions can be excused. However, Jackson is typically in the free safety role, and if not he is roaming the middle of the field. A high total in explosive passes allowed combined with no interceptions, as well as an increase in yards allowed per reception in concerning.
To be fair to Jackson, he has still be an above-average safety and is the furthest thing from the problem in Chicago. However, coming into the 2020 season many ranked him as a top tier safety with the names like Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick is a free safety and a deep field player like Jackson. While fans will argue that Jackson earned a reputation and teams avoid him, Fitzpatrick came off of 5 interceptions in 2019 and recorded 4 in 2020. The Steelers have been top 10 in explosive passes allowed since they traded for him.
Other factors are at play, but Jackson has played below the All-Pro caliber that is expected of him. It is not a concern, but a slight disappointment.