This is CHGO’s Chicago Bears 2022 player preview series. Learn more about each player and what to expect from them this year.
Eddie Jackson is entering his sixth season in the league and with the Chicago Bears after being drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
After compiling 10 interceptions, 26 pass breakups, and three touchdowns in his first three seasons, Jackson has been in a slump the last couple of years.
This has led to many fans souring out on the former all-pro. With a new coaching staff in charge, now is the time for Jackson to change the narrative that has recently surrounded him.
Advanced Stat to Know: Jackson allowed a passer rating of 132.3 when targeted last season. That was the second-worst mark of any safety that played at least 638 snaps.
Best Game of 2021
Jackson’s best performance came Week 7 when the Bears took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He finished with a season-high 11 tackles and only surrendered one catch for 11 yards on five targets.
Can Eddie Jackson turn his career trajectory around and resemble the type of player he once was?
Once upon a time, Jackson was a household name in the NFL. Opposing offenses feared throwing in his direction as he was a big play waiting to happen.
That hasn’t been the case over the past few seasons as Jackson hasn’t been the same player since his all-pro season in 2018. Even changing to No. 4 last season (the same number he wore in college) didn’t do the trick.
This is due to a couple of reasons. First, teams simply stopped throwing his way as often. His targets have gone down each season from 44 in 2018 to only 28 last season. Second, there were times when Jackson just didn’t seem to play with the same level of intensity and effort that was on display earlier in his career. Tackles that were once routine for Jackson turned into plays the safety simply was not making.
To Jackson’s credit, after missing 14 tackles per season between 2018-2020, he only missed nine a year ago.
Perhaps another reason why Jackson struggled after 2018 was the departure of Adrian Amos, whose impact was overlooked in Chicago. The Bears, under Ryan Pace, attempted to apply multiple bandaids as they scrounged the bargain bin to find Jackon’s new counterparts like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Tashaun Gipson. Both were serviceable but did not impact defenses like Amos.
Now with Ryan Poles at the helm, Chicago is seemingly correcting that wrong as they drafted the big-hitting Jaquan Brisker in the second round of the draft — a player that has a knack for making game-changing plays.
Pairing Jackson with a safety that has real potential unlike his previous counterparts could reinvigorate the veteran.
And if that doesn’t then the Bears’ new H.I.T.S. philosophy should.
Under Matt Eberflus, gone should be the days where players can coast and provide lackluster effort. The Bears are now placing an increased emphasis on Hustle, Intensity, Turnovers and Situational Smarts.
There’s no choice for Jackson — he must buy into this new way of doing things. If not, they’ll find someone who will. It would be wise for Jackson to fully embrace the team’s new mentality.
It’s a clean slate — the fresh start he needed.
Jackson’s talent that was on full display years ago is still there. It’s just a matter of tapping back into it, and the only way to do so would be to change his mindset.
If Jackson jumps in feet first, there’s a chance that he can look more like the player we saw in his first two seasons and less like the one we’ve seen most recently.
It’s now or never. Can Jackson break out of his three-year funk? Or is the writing already on the wall for what once was a great player for the Bears?
If he fully embraces the culture the Bears are aiming to build and takes Brisker underneath his wing, Jackson could very well elevate his game.
It just should not be expected to reach the heights it once was.
Prediction: Starting free safety.
Stats: 65 TKLS, 2 INT, 8 PBUs, 1 FR.