How Bears' Jaquan Brisker can help Eddie Jackson return to form

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How Brisker can help Eddie Jackson return to form originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

For years the Bears have tried to get Eddie Jackson producing at a level similar to his 2018 season when he intercepted six passes, recovered two fumbles, and scored three defensive touchdowns. Chuck Pagano wasn’t able to do it (although penalties negated a pair of Jackson pick-sixes in 2020). Neither was Sean Desai. Now it’s Matt Eberflus’ and Alan Williams’ charge.

Many defensive players have praised the new scheme, which is a take on the familiar Cover-2 defense. For the pass rushers it involves less thinking and more running full steam ahead into the backfield. For the secondary it involves keeping their eyes on the quarterback to better break on plays.

That alone could help Jackson return to form. But after the first day of mandatory minicamp, Jackson said playing alongside Jaquan Brisker could be a huge boon to his personal play, as well. One of the biggest reasons why: Brisker likes to play down in the box, which would allow Jackson to stay back as a true free safety, similar to how he played alongside Adrian Amos.

“I’m willing to play both, it don’t matter,” Jackson said. “But just knowing that he’s accepting that role and he’s really buying into it, If he’s going to go ahead, then I’m going to let him get it.”

In that scenario, where he has the ability to range across the backend, Jackson feels he can play to the best of his abilities.

“Just having somebody who loves to play that position and can take the weight off your shoulders, I can focus on roaming and getting the ball.”

That’s not all. In addition to the new scheme, and the new personnel, Jackson feels the accountability from his new coaches. They don’t tiptoe around him, or make concessions for him, just because of his prolific past.

“They are coaching me like I’m any other player, and that’s what I love,” Jackson said. “They challenge me. [Coach Andre Curtis] continues to challenge me. Coach Williams coaches me up on little things and stuff I need to improve on. He came to me today and asked me something I need to work on every day, so just to have them treat me like any other player, just taking that coaching and not being afraid of coachingー Some people like to come in and be skeptical of telling older guys how to play or this or that, but them just coming in and stating their plans and me just taking their coaching, I like it.”

Whether or not any of this has a tangible effect on Jackson’s play is to be determined. After participating early in practice on Tuesday, Jackson sat out most of the rest of the day. It’s also tough to fully evaluate the defense, when the offense is still installing new concepts and learning the playbook. Justin Fields and the wide receivers are still feeling each other out at this point, which can give the defense the edge.

If the Bears are to make improvements in the secondary, Jackson’s personal improvement will be key. The Bears hope Eberflus and Williams have the key to unlocking that potential, again.

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