The Bears are 2-4 and things for this season at least are mostly looking bleak. The defense is struggling to rush the passer, the offense is as anemic as usual. It’s a rebuilding year, and the Bears are playing most games close, but you expect to see more.
There is, however, one very bright spot on the team: Eddie Jackson. Jackson has been rejuvenated in Matt Eberflus’s cover 2 defensive scheme, and is having his best season since 2019.
After a solid rookie season in 2017, Jackson broke out in 2018 and was second in the NFL in interceptions with 6, and had 3 defensive scores that season, including a game winning pick 6 against Detroit on Thanksgiving. That was under the tutelage of Vic Fangio. His coverage in cover 2 and cover 4 really shined that year. The year after, under Chuck Pagano, Jackson showed another skillset, that of playing in the box and stopping the run and even occasionally rushing the passer. He had only two interceptions that year but was still a top-tier safety.
Jackson got off to a hot start in 2020 too, making a lot of plays during the Bears strong 5-1 start. He had 3 pick sixes taken away by questionable penalties. But when the Bears slide began, so did Eddie Jackson’s. He struggled throughout the rest of the season, making a lot of mistakes, both tackling and in coverage. That continued into 2021, where he again was not playing up to par.
With his struggles, Jackson was not guaranteed anything under a new regime. He was, however, unlikely to be moved this season, as previous contract restructures would make moving on from him not worth it. And after all, Jackson is still relatively young (28). If he could recapture is 2018-19 form, the Bears would still have a top-tier safety on a market value contract. Going into September, nobody knew what to expect from Jackson.
Well, we are now a third of the way through the regular season. And it looks like Eddie Jackson is back. Jackson has 3 interceptions, 43 tackles, and 2 forced fumbles. He has helped the Bears secondary limit opposing passers to a great degree. And even his tackling is a lot better; he is not missing much at all and bringing guys down single-handedly. The Bears defense is lacking a lot of talent, but is doing pretty well because of how good Eddie Jackson has been.
With a rejuvenated Eddie Jackson, the Bears future outlook looks a little brighter. If they can figure out the other side of the ball, the Bears will be a problem on both sides in 2023.