This is the time of year where external motivating factors pile up for NFL players champing at the bit to get back onto the practice field. Which also means it’s that time when players take their grievances to social media to declare they are taking note of what is being said and written, shared, and posted about them and their teammates.
Take for example Bears safety Eddie Jackson:
I take all this sh*t personal❗️
— Eddie Jackson (@BoJack39) July 12, 2021
I’d like to venture a guess and say Jackson saw he missed the cut for ESPN’s top-10 safeties list.
Moreover, I imagine that, in isolation, is a bummer for Jackson, who has been one of the game’s best at that position. But because ESPN’s list is made up of a voting panel featuring more than 50 NFL players, coaches, scouts, and executives, Jackson’s snub probably stings more. And to really make it burn, one NFC executive essentially called Jackson a one-trick magician when referring to his takeaway game. Otherwise, the anonymous exec adds: “Good, not great athlete, lacks special top-end speed, and he’s been inconsistent as a tackler. Not the most physical.”
This isn’t the first time Jackson’s game has been under the microscope. These critiques are similar to the ones that surfaced when Jackson was coming out of Alabama. Jackson wasn’t seen as a physical player. Instead, his tackling, physically, durability and toughness were question-marks on his résumé. In turn, Jackson came out and had two epic seasons to start his NFL career. Obviously, the 8 interceptions and 5 defensive touchdowns stand out from Jackson’s coming out party from the first two years. But Jackson also played with an edge, a burst of speed, and the type of physicality that I wasn’t expecting. Don’t get me wrong. Jackson wasn’t lowering the boom like Tony Parrish. However, being a willing tackler was a pleasant surprise.
So, now, it seems as if Jackson finds himself back at square one where he was as a rookie. Immensely talented, gifted, and skilled, but with much to prove. Someone with tape that looks like a highlight reel, save for some unsavory moments here and there. I can’t help but wonder how much not coming away with an interception last year is clouding judgments. Because, let’s remember, Jackson saw a handful of splash plays get taken away due to things that weren’t in his control. And while I’m sure Jackson isn’t the only one who saw picks get wiped off the board, that they’ve come during an extended stretch gnaws at me. Thus, it probably bugs Jackson, too.
All in all, I’m looking forward to what the Eddie Jackson Revenge Tour™ will look like in person. Although, I bet opponents aren’t as interested in seeing what a motivated Jackson will do in 2021.