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Eddie Jackson knows he had a down year in 2021. By his own admission, it was probably the worst season of his professional career. There were questions about whether the Bears would keep him, and try to recapture some of his old takeaway magic, or cut him and his $15 million cap. But Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus opted to keep Jackson as they rebuild the defense, and have offered him a clean slate. Jackson says the opportunity feels good.
“Just get everything behind, everything you went through, now it’s a fresh start,” Jackson said. “No one cares what you did in the past.”
Jackson knows the type of player he is, and what he’s capable of accomplishing on the field. But more than anything he’s focused on showing his new coaches that he’s fully bought into the new system and is willing to do whatever is asked of him to succeed.
So far, that message has been received by Eberflus.
“I can see it in his attitude and his demeanor,” Eberflus said. “I could see it in his eyes when I talk to him that he is energized and he sees it as a fresh start for him. I can see it in his practice, too, just the way he’s carrying himself. He’s been great in the meetings and he’s been great on the practice field.”
When it comes to Jackson’s play on the field, Eberflus believes Jackson can play at a high level again.
“It’s still there,” Eberflus said. “You can see the range and the speed and the athletic ability. A guy with that experience, he now has to fit himself into our defense, the defense that we’re installing. And I say our defense, meaning him included.”
That experience will be key on the backend too. On Thursday, Eberflus noted the relative inexperience of cornerbacks not named Jaylon Johnson, so having a literal safety valve will be important this season. Jackson believes Eberflus’ simpler keys will help him succeed in that role.
“It’s not too much eyes here, eyes there,” Jackson said. “You just see what’s in front of you and play.
“I feel like I fit pretty good. Everything’s been good so far. It’s still early on, you can tell. But I feel like everything is going to be good this year for everyone.”
As for first impressions of Eberflus’ HITS philosophy, Jackson believes it can help the defense become an elite unit again.
“The coaches are challenging us to do certain things we've never done before. Just like flying around. We run to everything. That's the biggest emphasis is finish, hustle, effort and that's just what we are doing right now.
“Everyone’s flying around, making plays, breaking on the ball. When you do that certain things start to happen.”
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