In 2018, Chicago Bears free safety Eddie Jackson produced an electrifying season as the top secondary player of an elite defense. Jackson came away with 7 total takeaways and 3 total touchdowns, earning himself a massive payday. Ever since then, Jackson could be described as disappointing as he’s not come close to the same production that he had in 2018 and was a liability at times. However, with the pieces that Jackson has around him this season, he may be poised for a comeback season.
When talking about Jackson’s downfall, it’s important to note that the Bears lost defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and safety Adrian Amos in the offseason following 2018. Both of these people were massive aids in Eddie Jackson’s breakout and he may have not seen any kind of a decline had they stayed. Fangio’s strong defensive mind allowed Eddie to be in the right positions on every play, maxing out his capabilities. Those positions were often as the farthest defender back, expanding his vision of the field and allowing him to always see where the ball is. Amos made it possible for Fangio to put Jackson in that position as Amos would do a phenomenal job of covering a shorter zone and making players try to avoid him. Amos was a very hard hitter who seemed to be everywhere on the field. Because of this, losing these two was a massive hit for Eddie Jackson as he had to play in positions that he wasn’t entirely comfortable with.
Between 2019-2021, Jackson was often covering a slot receiver or tight end which he often did a solid job at, but it limited his time playing in a deep zone. Without Amos, Jackson was also expected to do more of the downhill tackling, which has always been a known weakness of his. The formula was lost for him as he only had 4 total takeaways and 1 touchdown in the previous 3 seasons.
Enter Matt Eberflus and Jaquan Brisker, the potential signs of revival in Eddie Jackson’s career. Matt Eberflus was the defensive coordinator of a very successful Indianapolis Colts defense for many years. Eberflus is one of the smarter defensive minds in football, and though he may not be as good as Fangio, he will be great for knowing how Eddie Jackson should be used. Jaquan Brisker is a rookie safety out of Penn State with a very similar playstyle to Adrian Amos. Brisker could fill a similar role as Amos and could open up more opportunities for Eddie Jackson to play like Eddie Jackson.
On Sunday, the Bears played the 49ers and the first signs of an Eddie Jackson revival shined. Jackson was able to make a very timely interception, jumping a Trey Lance pass and returning the interception for 26 yards. He was able to see the QBs eyes rather than worrying about playing man coverage on a tight end and made the biggest play of the game en route to a Bears win. Jaquan Brisker clearly made an impact on Eberflus’ decision to let Jackson play his game. Brisker was everywhere on the field making tackles, hard hits, playing amazing short coverage, and just overall made Jackson’s game much easier. There’s a lot to like about the Bears’ new defensive and coaching look, but the thing that may excite fans from 2018 the most could be the re-emergence of their ballhawk.