How Chicago Bears can get more out of Eddie Jackson

Chicago Bears (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) /

Eddie Jackson has been declining since his breakout 2018 season with the Chicago Bears. He got better between his rookie and second year, and while he did not immediately fall off, he did slowly get worse every year since then.

While it is fair that it would have been a hard season to replicate, the fact that he has been nowhere near as close to his best season is what is concerning. Was that year an aberration?

While it is starting to get more likely that his past three seasons are more of what he is than his second NFL season, there is a noticeable correlation to his production.

Below you can see how Jackson performs from missed tackles, yards per target, yards after the catch, run stop rate, adjusted yards per attempt, and coverage stop rate. However, this also shows the percentage of snaps he played as the deep safety, as opposed to in the box or in the slot.

Chicago Bears should line up Eddie Jackson deep

In 2018, he was a deep safety at 72%, and the only close marker was his second season, where he was in the box at 62.3%. In two years with Chuck Pagano, he was at 50.98%, and 47.7%, huge drops, and the drop continued at 41.3%, although that was more because Jackson was in the slot and less about being in the box.

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It is no surprise that Vic Fangio had Jackson playing his best. Still, there is a correlation that the more often Jackson lines up deep, the better he plays. His adjusted yards per attempt at 1.05 in 2018 compared to 12.82, and 12.46 the past two tell the whole story.

Perhaps Jackson is consistently getting worse, but perhaps the Bears were putting him in less advantageous situations. The most interesting notes are the missed tackles and the run stop rate. These are at his worst when fans loved Jackson the most.

He was missing tackles at a worse rate, probably because he had fewer chances, but also because that is what he does. This is not a performance issue that started after 2018, it was his biggest weakness in 2018 as well.

On a per snap rate, he got better against the run, and he had to because he was in the box defending it more often. Still, this tells us that while fans are annoyed with his run defense, he does not actually have to be good in this area.

If he is a poor run defender, but is playing deep and does not have many chances it is fine. If he offsets a 21% missed tackle rate with a 31% coverage stop rate, no one cares. When his coverage stop rate gets cut in half, the missed tackles get more glaring, especially when he is highlighted in the box more often.

So, the reality is that if Jackson can be used right, we can still see the same old player. This is why the addition of Jaquan Brisker was so valuable to Chicago.

Jaquan Brisker should help Eddie Jackson

Last season Brisker was in the box 60% of the time. Even if they have Jackson back deep 60% that is nearly 20% more often than last season, and much closer to his first two seasons. The fit of Brisker in the box allowing Jackson to play deep makes a lot of sense.

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The Chicago Bears should line him up deep as often as possible. They should understand that the missed tackles will come, but with him playing deep they will not come as often. On top of that, with him playing deep he can read the field and make more plays in coverage. If we do not see the old Jackson next season, then there is no excuse. For now, it is fair to note he has not been used to the best of his ability.