On October 22, 2016, Alabama safety Eddie Jackson suffered a season-ending broken leg in the Crimson Tide’s victory against No. 6 Texas A&M. He spent that evening responding to messages of support from teammates on Twitter. What a difference a year makes.
On the one-year anniversary of Jackson’s season-ending injury, the rookie safety had a record-setting game in the Chicago Bears’ dominant 17-3 win over the Carolina Panthers.
After the game, he acknowledged the anniversary with another Twitter post:
Jackson was Pro Football Focus’ top-rated safety in Week 7 and his 81.9 grade ranks 19th among the site’s 84 qualifying safeties. He also became the first player in league history with multiple defensive touchdowns of 75 yards or more in the same game. Just awesome.
Jackson was drafted in the fourth round because of his injury history, but his playmaking ability – when healthy – has never been questioned.
- Vinnie Duber of NBC Sports Chicago dives into some of the crazy facts that popped up as a result of Jackson’s ridiculous game, and you’re going to love them:
- Jackson became the first player to have a fumble and interception returned for a touchdown since Antonio Cromartie (San Diego Chargers, 2007).
- He was the first Bears player with two defensive touchdowns in the same game since Fred Evans (1948).
- And he now has more defensive touchdowns than Mike Singletary and Dick Butkus combined. Getting all those names in one place says a lot about how awesome Jackson’s performance was on Sunday.
- It’s easy to focus on the on-field happenings, but Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune explains how a scouting report aided Jackson in doing his thing. One could describe the Bears as disjointed based on performance in recent years, but this is what it looks like when everything is working at the same time. More, please.
- To be clear, it wasn’t just Eddie Jackson putting the team on his back and carrying the squad to a second straight upset win. JJ Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago writes how Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was shut down by a defense that spent nearly 40 minutes of game time chasing him around the field. It’s one of the most impressive performances from this unit in quite some time. And considering that they should have been gassed, it’s a testament to the combination of player endurance, coaching, and execution that good teams tend to have.
- On the offensive side of the ball, the Bears were quite lifeless. Though, to be fair, the group didn’t spend much time possessing the football. The offense was lackluster, save for one awesome 70-yard completion from Mitch Trubisky to running back Tarik Cohen. For a moment, it looked like the Bears offense was going to contribute a touchdown of its own. Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times writes Cohen took the blame for not converting that big play into a touchdown.
- It wasn’t the only squandered opportunity of the game, as Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune notes that Newton was quite frustrated with his own performance in Sunday’s Panthers loss. These were Newton’s first public comments to the media after violating the NFL’s policy by not talking to reporters in the week leading up to Sunday’s game.
- By one metric, Mitch Trubisky had a pretty darn good game. Of course, that metric doesn’t tell you everything about a quarterback’s performance – so there is some good and bad to takeaway from that 101.8 quarterback rating. But he’s not the only NFC North quarterback operating with training wheels. Brett Hundley, who is Aaron Rodgers’ replacement in Green Bay for the time being, completed just 12 of 25 passes for 87 yards in a 26-17 loss at the hands of the New Orleans Saints – who happen to be the Bears’ next opponent. Hundley showed some flashes with his mobility, but was ultimately ineffective. Perhaps Green Bay will take a page out of the Bears’ playbook and be a bit more reliant on running back Aaron Jones, who ran 17 times for 131 yards and scored one of the team’s two rushing touchdowns.
- The Bears aren’t even the only team in the division winning ugly. Minnesota defeated Baltimore 24-16 behind Latavius Murray’s 113 rushing yards and despite quarterback Case Keenum’s 67.7 passer rating. The Vikings and Bears won’t square off again until the regular season finale, but don’t look now, but Chicago is creeping its way toward the blob of .500 teams that could conceivably talk itself into being a postseason contender. Maybe that Week 17 game in Minnesota will mean more than we would have otherwise expected.