Eddie Jackson

Bears Week 4 grades: Mike Glennon, John Fox fall flat in Green Bay

Bears Week 4 grades: Mike Glennon, John Fox fall flat in Green Bay

QUARTERBACKS: F

Mike Glennon lost two fumbles and threw an interception in the first half, then threw another interception in the third quarter. This was another horrendous game for the Bears’ starting quarterback. Teams don’t go into Green Bay — or anywhere, really — and win when their quarterback turns the ball over four times and doesn’t make enough plays to overcome those mistakes. Glennon now has eight turnovers to his name through four games.

RUNNING BACKS: D

Jordan Howard was bottled up for 53 yards on 18 carries, with 21 of those yards coming in garbage time during the fourth quarter. According to Pro Football Focus, he didn’t force a missed tackle on any of his 18 runs, and also dropped a screen pass. Tarik Cohen (six carries, 24 yards, four receptions 24 yards) wasn’t able to get loose but did deliver a nice block in pass protection on Glennon’s touchdown to Kendall Wright. Unfortunately for the Bears’ “Thunder” and “Lightning” Green Bay did what plenty of opposing defenses will do going forward: The Packers put eight or more defenders in the box on 12 of Howard’s 18 runs Thursday night.

WIDE RECEIVERS: D

Wright caught all four of his targets and looked like a productive pass-catcher a week after not being targeted against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The rest of his teammates struggled, though — like Josh Bellamy being unable to bring in a relatively well-thrown Glennon deep ball late in the first quarter. On Glennon’s first interception, he threw the ball too quick, so Markus Wheaton wasn’t able to get the depth in his route that he wanted.

TIGHT ENDS: D

Zach Miller had two productive catches totaling 45 yards, but this group didn’t do enough in the run blocking game. Adam Shaheen didn’t play enough, and when he did, he wasn’t able to block Ahmad Brooks on a snap, who dropped Howard for a four-yard loss that preceded Glennon’s first fumble. Dion Sims had one catch for eight yards and hasn’t been much of a factor in the passing game this year.

OFFENSIVE LINE: D+

A Kyle Long false start put the Bears behind the chains right before Glennon threw his first interception. Josh Sitton (holding) and Charles Leno (false start) were flagged in a succession on three plays in the second quarter that backed the Bears up from the Packers’ 37-yard line to the Bears’ 47. Cody Whitehair had another shaky snap before he and Glennon botched the one Green Bay recovered (for what it’s worth, Olin Kreutz said that was on the quarterback):

This was a struggle for an offensive line that finally had all five projected preseason starters, but was facing a Dom Capers defense that was going to sell out to stop the run and force the Bears to pass. In that sense, that the only sack Green Bay had was when Glennon held the ball too long on the first play of the game is a positive.

DEFENSIVE LINE: C-

Green Bay ran the ball on five of its first six plays, with Ty Montgomery, before he exited with a reported broken rib, quickly pushing the Packers into Bears territory. When the Packers did pass, a lot of the balls came out quick — except for that 58-yard heave to Jordy Nelson. But even if the pass-rushing opportunities were limited, this was a missed opportunity for a defensive line going against an offensive line missing its two starting tackles and playing guys out of position.

LINEBACKERS: C-

Leonard Floyd notched his first sack of the year and Pernell McPhee continued his solid play to open the season with a sack of his own, but this group (and the defense as a whole) didn’t record a hurry on Rodgers. According to Pro Football Focus’ numbers, Rodgers was under pressure only seven of his 28 drop backs. Danny Trevathan made 13 tackles but his vicious hit on Davante Adams may warrant a suspension, which would leave the Bears precariously thin at inside linebacker.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: D+

Nelson getting wide open for a touchdown in the second half was ugly, and the only positive play on the ball this group made was when Eddie Jackson dislodged the ball from Nelson’s hands on a deep third down throw in the first quarter. The Bears still don’t have an interception through four games.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D

Connor Barth missed a 47-yard field goal wide right for the second consecutive week. More positively, Pat O’Donnell pinned the Packers inside their own 20-yard line on all three of his punts, and perhaps not coincidentally, Green Bay punted on all three of those possessions.

COACHING: F

John Fox said it himself: “It starts at the top. We got out-coached.” The Bears were sloppy, and their eight penalties followed games in which they were flagged 10 times (Pittsburgh) and eight times (Tampa Bay). Coaching on a short week isn’t ideal, but the Packers had to deal with the same timeframe (though they committed seven penalties, too).

On another topic — why was Howard, shoulder injury and all, still in the game down 28 in the fourth quarter? It was a white flag drive lasting 8:53 with the team down by 28. At that point, protecting the team’s best offensive player would’ve seemed to be important, especially if that was the reasoning for not playing Mitchell Trubisky.

“If you watch the game, I don’t think it was an ideal time to put him in,” Fox said.

Why the Bears believe Eddie Jackson is up for the challenge

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USA TODAY

Why the Bears believe Eddie Jackson is up for the challenge

Eddie Jackson has played in big games before. Two Iron Bowls, two SEC Championships, two College Football Playoff semifinals and a College Football Playoff final (which he won) are on his resume from four years at Alabama. 

“That was college,” Jackson matter-of-factly said. “This is the NFL.”

Jackson is atop the Bears’ unofficial Week 1 depth chart and is in line to start in his regular season debut Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Watching Jackson during preseason play, it’s easy to forget 111 players were drafted before the Bears took him in the fourth round in April. His range and ball skills quickly translated to the NFL level and make him an intriguing part of a re-vamped secondary hoping to make more plays than last year’s group did (eight interceptions). 

While plenty of preseason hype has centered around offensive players in Mitchell Trubisky and Tarik Cohen, Jackson is lined up for the biggest role of any Bears rookie this year. 

“He’s just smart, man,” fellow safety Quintin Demps said. “He hasn’t had many (mental errors), and Vic Fangio’s defense is very, very difficult. For a rookie to come in and pick that up man. It just shows a lot about his IQ as a football player.”

Jackson’s football intelligence has been a frequent point of praise for the 6-foot, 201 pound safety. He described Fangio’s system as “complicated at times,” but Jackson adapted to a complex defense at Alabama that's helped him adjust to whatever Fangio's thrown at him over the last few months. 

“I think for any rookie to come in and earn a starting position regardless of position I think, it speaks to that (intelligence),” coach John Fox said. “I think how hard they work, their work ethic, what their football acumen is, and how fast they adjust. I think Eddie has got a good background and obviously has a good football IQ. And that’s what enables guys to come in and learn and grasp and execute under pressure.”

Jackson nearly had an acrobatic one-handed interception against the Arizona Cardinals last month, settling for a pass break-up but showing those ball skills the Bears believe can immediately help the secondary. His first true test will come against Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and a Falcons offense that ranked No. 1 in scoring last year (33.8 points per game), but the Bears are confident Jackson and his veteran counterpart can succeed when the snaps start mattering on Sunday. 

“What we saw in the draft is his ball skills jump out right away, but he’s got natural instincts and anticipation,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “That’s something back there that we’ve been looking for a while now, and I think he pairs really well with Demps. We kinda got the savvy vet with Demps and the emerging rookie with Jackson. But you can just see him anticipate routes, break on things early and just have a great feel and natural instincts back there.

“Like this whole rookie class in general, it’s not too big for him. He plays with a confidence and swagger that’s refreshing to see in a young player.” 

Rookie review: How the Bears' 2017 draft class fared in its first preseason

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AP

Rookie review: How the Bears' 2017 draft class fared in its first preseason

This year’s crop of Bears rookies has, for the most part, impressed over the last month. There are a handful of immediate contributors and a couple of players who, with a little more time, could be key parts of the long-term turnaround Ryan Pace hopes to engineer. 

A look at the five players the Bears drafted, plus that one undrafted free agent who opened plenty of eyes in July and August:

QB Mitchell Trubisky (1st round, No. 2 overall)
Stats: 36/53 (67.9 percent), 364 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 106.2 QB rating

It’s hard to imagine Trubisky’s preseason going better than it did, save for those head-scratching passes he threw at the end of Thursday night’s preseason finale. Over the course of a heap of practice reps and four games, Trubisky sped up his timeline to make his regular season debut — in other words, he looked more ready to play than expected. 

Trubisky still needs to refine his pre-snap operation of the Bears’ offense, but he’s made strides in taking snaps under center (remember when that was an issue?) and reading defenses. There was no doubt from the moment the Bears drafted Trubisky that he’d be their quarterback of the future, but he showed over the last month that future can come sooner rather than later. 

TE Adam Shaheen (2nd round, No. 45 overall)
Stats: 6 receptions, 37 yards

Shaheen entered training camp having impressed during OTAs and minicamp, looking like a guy who could make an immediate difference in the red zone. But how big an impact he could make as a rookie was always going to be determined by how he fared when the pads came on. 

What those padded practices and games showed, though, is that the hulking 6-foot-6, 270 pound tight end from Division II Ashland still needs more time. Shaheen's invisibility in practices and games, and inclusion on special teams units, is a good indication of where he stands going into the season. He can still carve out a role if he makes strides in practice, but he’s squarely behind Zach Miller and Dion Sims on the Bears’ depth chart. 

S Eddie Jackson (4th round, 112th overall)
Stats: 2 tackles, 1 pass defended

No rookie will have a greater opportunity than Jackson, who looks in line to start at free safety Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons. The rangy Alabama product was frequently around the ball in Bourbonnais and nearly picked off a pass against the Arizona Cardinals. 

Jackson’s ball skills are what this turnover-strapped secondary needs, though questions about his physicality cropped up after he and Quintin Demps combined to whiff on tackling Taywan Taylor against the Titans for a big-chunk play on Sunday. 

RB Tarik Cohen (4th round, 119th overall)
Stats: 19 carries, 121 yards (6.4 yards per carry)

Few players improved their stock more during the last month than Cohen, who impressed not only with his quickness but with how hard the 5-foot-6, 181 pound running back ran. His 11-carry, 77-yard game against Arizona was an eye-opener, showing that Cohen could be more than a threat on third downs. 

Still, if the Bears use him as a change-of-pace guy on third down to start the season, he showed during the preseason he can make an immediate impact. He should get some work on kick and/or punt returns, too. And this is worth noting: Cohen didn’t catch a pass in three preseason games, leaving a solid area of his game untapped (and not on film to opponents). 

OL Jordan Morgan (5th round, 147th overall)
Stats: 4 games played

Morgan played with the backup offensive line and was as advertised — a former Division II player who will need time to transition to the NFL. It’ll be interesting to see if the Bears keep him on the 53-man roster or try to stash him on their practice squad over the weekend.

Tanner Gentry (undrafted)
Stats: 4 catches, 77 yards, 1 TD

Gentry very well could be one of the guys who played his way onto the 53-man roster with a highly productive preseason — both in games and practice — and willingness to be on special teams. He out-played the likes of Victor Cruz (6 catches, 28 yards, 1 TD) and Titus Davis (4 catches, 52 yards) and quickly developed a good rapport with Trubisky. 

That Gentry mainly stuck with the second/third-team offense — and didn’t get much work with Mike Glennon — could be a sign he might not survive cut-down day, though. He didn’t record a reception or a target in Thursday night’s loss to Cleveland, but did get plenty of special teams work throughout the game. 

The bigger question with Gentry is: Would the receiver-thin Bears really want to risk losing him to another team by trying to sneak him onto their practice squad? That we’re asking this question about an undrafted free agent is a good sign for Gentry, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good enough sign that he’ll make the initial 53-man roster.  

Undrafted free agents who could be practice squad fodder: WR Alton Howard, RB Josh Rounds, FB Freddie Stevenson, LB Isaiah Irving, OL Brandon Greene, OL Mitchell Kirsch, OL Dieugot Joseph, DL Rashaad Coward