Spirits were briefly lifted when All-Pro safety Eddie Jackson was listed as active for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles – and with good reason: the Chicago Bears were getting their top safety back against a team with ample deep threats at wide receiver and tight end. It was a return every Bears fan greeted with open arms, after Jackson missed the last two games of the regular season having suffered a sprained ankle on an interception in Week 15 against the Green Bay Packers. Except the return never happened.
“I wanted to play,” Jackson said, via JJ Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago. “Really, it was my idea, I wanted to go out there and at least dress out. Just to have that feeling, (in case of an) emergency, if I’m not starting, just an emergency if something goes down, you could throw me in the game.”
If you recall, Jackson wasn’t placed among the inactives and was listed as a starter at Soldier Field. But when the game kicked off, it was Deon Bush starting and playing as he did in the final two weeks of the regular season. Jackson was on the sideline fully dressed, but not in the game. Perhaps we should have seen this coming.
Jackson didn’t practice on the Wednesday before the game despite being expected. And while he ultimately tested his ankle and was a limited participant later in the week, he was still viewed as a game-time decision by Head Coach Matt Nagy. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to give it a go at less than 100 percent and was limited to emergency duty.
It’s never good to play the what if game, but I can’t help but wonder if a less-than-100-percent Jackson could have made the sort of game-swinging play as a pass defender that one of his teammates ultimately couldn’t. Nick Foles threw enough ducks into the Bears secondary that could have been broken up or intercepted, and since enough of them landed in the hands of Eagles pass-catchers, Philadelphia was able to move the chains, win the time of possession battle, and engineer enough scoring drives to win the game. To be clear, none of that is Jackson’s fault. It’s just painfully obvious how much that defense missed its biggest playmaker.
Between missed opportunities with balls in the air and the mistake of having just 10 defenders on the field on Dallas Goeddert’s touchdown reception, Jackson was dearly missed.