Patrick Mahomes made the highlight reel and players on the winning AFC team took home the big cash prize, but Eddie Jackson emerging as healthy is the most important thing to come out of the 2019 Pro Bowl.
Admittedly, I have my biases. And it’s not like there was much of a bar to clear when Mitch Trubisky throws an interception and Tarik Cohen is given just one touch. But save for Kyle Fuller’s interception of Andrew Luck, there wasn’t much to write home about regarding the Bears who attended the Pro Bowl outside of a happy (and healthy) return for Jackson to the football field.
“To watch guys on TV, see them in person and pick their personality out and have a connection, man it was fun,” Jackson said after the game. “For us to all be here right now, it’s a blessing.”
Jackson didn’t crack the box score, but he played his share of snaps. Just to see him on the field and moving was reassuring, even if the Pro Bowl has essentially turned into an adult version of two-hand touch football. Sunday’s Pro Bowl appearance was Jackson’s first game action since Week 15 when he was injured on a fourth-quarter interception of Aaron Rodgers in the Bears’ NFC North clinching win against the Green Bay Packers. Jackson missed the final two games of the regular season to rest up his ankle injury, but was unable to play in the team’s playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles despite suiting up on game day.
As if there weren’t enough “what-if?” scenarios that could have broken differently for the Bears in the playoffs, we can Jackson’s potential return for what would have been a Divisional Round matchup against the eventual NFC champs to the list. Jackson told Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune he was a few days from being a full participant in practice. “I needed like three more days. Probably Wednesday or Thursday of that next week, I was going to be full go.”
The Bears missed Jackson’s big-play ability in the secondary, especially when Nick Foles was throwing ducks into Chicago’s secondary. Sigh. We’ll continue to run through “what-if?” scenarios until we can no longer take the torment, but I guess the silver lining in the dark cloud is that seeing Jackson on a playing field should at least put everyone’s mind at ease to start the offseason.
Chicago’s top safety is healthy heading into the 2019 season, which is more important than any other thing a Bears player could have done in that setting.