Much like value in quickly ripping off a band-aid, first-year Bears GM Ryan Poles has purged the team of a bunch of the previous regime’s most notable players from the roster.
And yet, safety Eddie Jackson remains.
At this point, you’re probably curious as to how he survived in the first place. And while I’m sure there were cap ramifications that went into the decision to keep Jackson for the time being, it sounds like new Head Coach Matt Eberflus has good reason to give him a “fresh slate” going into the coming season:
"times it up well, does a good job there, does a nice job in coverage, so we’ll see where it is."
— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) March 29, 2022
At the peak of his powers, Jackson was arguably the NFL’s best safety. His first three years were shot out of a cannon. Jackson played in 46 of 49 possible games, which was notable when you think about the time he missed due to injury at Alabama. He definitely made the most of his time on the field, coming away with 10 interceptions, scoring five defensive touchdowns, forcing four fumbles, and recovering five. Heck, Jackson even took down two quarterback sacks and put up eight tackles-for-loss for good measure. He was a stat-stuffing machine who was at the top of his game entering the prime of his career.
But since the end of the 2019 season, Jackson has been a disappointment. Jackson has no interceptions in his last 30 games since the beginning of the 2020 season. There are still four forced fumbles to his record, but just one recovery. The turnovers haven’t been there, which is one reason the overall defensive numbers have slid since the end of the 2019 campaign. Even still … Eberflus must believe he can coax something special out of Jackson this coming season. And that Eberflus is looking at it through the lens of what Jackson can do as opposed to what he hasn’t done could lead to a positive shakeup. And perhaps it even includes a position switch.
In the middle of last year, Jackson rebounded from a slow start to put together some good tape. And I can’t help but wonder if it had to do with the defensive alignments and positions Sean Desai was putting him in:
We’re seeing a lot of 3-safety looks today from Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai, with both Houston-Carson and Bush getting snaps. Eddie Jackson is being moved around the defense a bunch.
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) October 10, 2021
Eddie Jackson said the first time he played at the nickel cornerback position was against the Raiders. Jackson went to defensive coordinator Sean Desai and essentially told him he liked playing in that spot. It gets him "more involved in the game."
— Nicholas Moreano (@NicholasMoreano) December 29, 2021
Desai is gone. But that tape still exists. As does tape of Jackson filling in a bunch of different roles in Nick Saban’s defense. I suppose there is a real chance Eberflus and new Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams have ideas how they can use what they know about what Jackson has done and apply it to him in this new defense. Time will tell. But between a clean slate and some new ideas, Jackson has a new lease on a football life in Chicago’s secondary. I hope he takes advantage of it.