Bears

Eddie Jackson's instincts similar to Ed Reed, according to Rodney Harrison

Eddie Jackson's instincts similar to Ed Reed, according to Rodney Harrison

There aren’t many analysts out there who know safety play like NBC’s Rodney Harrison; the two-time All-Pro and two-time Super Bowl champion played at a high level for 15 years split between the Chargers and Patriots. So when NBC Sports Chicago Bears insider JJ Stankevitz caught up with Harrison for a recent edition of the Under Center podcast, Eddie Jackson naturally was a major topic of conversation, and the current NBC Sports NFL analyst wants to see the Bears deploy Jackson a little differently than they did in 2019.

“I think this young player is a terrific player,” said Harrison. “Good size, great instincts, everything that you want in an all-star caliber safety. I thought he played a little out of position last year, playing a little more strong safety, I think he’s a more of a natural, ballhawking free safety. They need to bring somebody in to play that (strong safety) position. Just let him roam with his athleticism.” 

The Bears did bring in some new faces to compete for the second starting safety spot, most notably 8-year veteran Tashaun Gipson. The biggest reason in favor of accommodating Jackson’s play style? The Hall of Fame safety to whom Jackson is comparable, according to Harrison.

“I think Eddie Jackson needs to go in the middle of the field, because he’s got so much range and so much vision,” explains the former Patriots team captain. “You look at the vision and the instincts, it’s like Ed Reed. Why would you take him out of the center of the field, and put him as the strong safety? If you’re going to do anything, send him off the edge, bring him, blitz him, disguise, move around, do all those different things.”

RELATED: Tashaun Gipson is right: He and Eddie Jackson can be ‘deadly’ pair'

Harrison’s thoughts are backed up by the numbers; while Jackson enjoyed a solid season in 2019 and made the Pro Bowl for the 2nd time, his explosive plays dipped significantly. Jackson recorded two interceptions after 6 in 2018, and his passes defended dropped from 15 to 5, and in light of that, Harrison offered some free advice to the Bears defensive coaching staff.

“A guy goes from getting his hands on the ball, strips, INTs, pass breakups, and then you take him out of the center, where he was a first-team All-Pro, and I actually voted for him, and you put him in the box? It’s crazy. You don’t have to pigeonhole him, but don’t put him in the box solely, because you just limit his ability and what he can do.”

Mitch Trubisky among Sports Illustrated's biggest what-ifs of the last 10 years

Mitch Trubisky among Sports Illustrated's biggest what-ifs of the last 10 years

If you're a diehard Bears fan or a fan of Mitch Trubisky, you may want to skip this one. It isn't pretty.

Sports Illustrated recently published the NFL's 10 biggest what-ifs of the last decade, and Ryan Pace's decision to draft Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson made the cut. 

Look, this isn't earth-shattering stuff. Bears fans have assimilated to life after the 2017 draft and the painful reality that Chicago had an opportunity to select either Mahomes or Watson. It's obvious that that decision changed the fate of the Bears (for the worse), while the Chiefs are defending Super Bowl champions and the Texans are poised to always be in the mix despite the blunders by the coaching staff and shell of a front office.

But this is the Bears. And they're a popular target this offseason for reasons beyond comprehension. What in the world did this team do to offend football media so hard? But I digress.

At least SI is somewhat reasonable with the way things could've played out for Mahomes and Watson had they been picked by the Bears. It's easy (and somewhat foolish) to assume their careers would've taken the same path in Chicago that it has in Kansas City and Houston. In fact, Trubisky's had the most challenging start to his career. He's the only one of the three who's on his second head coach, and if we're being honest, Allen Robinson is the only legitimate (and proven) starting-caliber receiver he's had at his disposal.

If the Bears had taken Mahomes, and still fired John Fox after his rookie year, and still hired Andy Reid protege Matt Nagy, would the team find the same level of success? If Mahomes was not given the chance to sit his rookie season behind Alex Smith and smooth out the rough patches in his game, would he emerge as the same firebrand? If Watson was a Bear, without the comically high catch radius of DeAndre Hopkins and a foundationally sound offense (Trivia Question: Who led the Bears in receiving yards in 2017? Kendall Wright with 614!), what would’ve become of him?

There are some basic facts that can't be ignored, however. Trubisky has proven to be the least talented of the three from pure quarterbacking standpoint after three years in the league. He doesn't have the natural ability to make the kind of 'wow' plays that Watson routinely does and his arm is a full tier (or more) below Mahomes'. Trubisky certainly has physical traits consistent with a quality starting quarterback, but his mental processing is way behind Mahomes and Watson at this point, and we've entered that scary territory where it's worth questioning whether he's capable of growth in that part of his game.

If the Bears picked Mahomes or Watson, they'd be better equipped to make a Super Bowl run sometime in the not-too-distant future. But they didn't. And guess what? They're still good enough to make that SuperBowl run, assuming Trubisky (or Nick Foles) plays their best football in 2020.

Will the Bears field a top-20 fantasy football running back this season?

Will the Bears field a top-20 fantasy football running back this season?

Fantasy football leagues around the country are beginning to schedule their drafts, and as is the case in every league regardless of the scoring format, running backs will be a hot commodity.

The elite running backs -- Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, and Saquon Barkley -- are easy picks at the top of Round 1. But finding value at the position in the next couple of rounds is where league titles are won. Will David Montgomery be one of those guys? 

According to the analytics experts at Pro Football Focus, he might be. PFF is projecting Montgomery to be a top-20 running back in PPR (points per reception) leagues.

Another 250-plus touches seem more than reasonable for Montgomery in 2020. This number, like most statistical thresholds, is fairly arbitrary, but there has been a strong history of success from players that manage to reach this “milestone.” Overall, only nine out of 153 RBs with at least 250 touches in a season failed to finish better than the PPR RB24. Yes, 2019 featured three of those players in Montgomery himself, Carlos Hyde and Sony Michel, but the potential for the Bears' featured back to continue to improve his efficiency and pass-game role adds a bit more of a ceiling for 2020.

This seems like a logical projection for Montgomery, who currently has an average draft position (ADP) of RB21 (49th overall). That equates to an early fifth-round pick in 12-team leagues.

Running backs who are being drafted just ahead of Montgomery are David Johnson (Texans), Melvin Gordon (Broncos), Chris Carson (Seahawks) and even Todd Gurley (Falcons).

Fantasy owners who draft Montgomery would be wise to target Tarik Cohen as his handcuff. He can be had much later in fantasy leagues; he's coming off the board as the 42nd running back and 145th player overall.