Bears

Eddie Jackson's in the longest turnover drought of his life, and 'It's getting stressful'

Eddie Jackson's in the longest turnover drought of his life, and 'It's getting stressful'

At this point last season, Eddie Jackson had forced turnovers in three of the first four games, and was coming off a first half highlighted by a 65-yard scoop and score against the Bills. Jackson ended the season as the defense's most consistent playmaker, which makes the underwhelming first half of 2019 even more confusing. Big plays aren't coming like they used to, and the Bears' defense – Jackson especially – are still trying to figure out why.

"You know I really can’t even answer that," he said on Tuesday. "We’ve just got to continue flying around and try to make plays on the ball."

"That’s like a trick question - I really don’t know how to answer that. You’ve got to fly around. Guys got to make plays on the ball, strip the ball, or get in position to make plays and try to intercept it and things like that. Really don’t know." 

The last time Jackson scored was in the Bears' Thanksgiving game last season. He jumped a slant from Matt Stafford and ran it back 40-something yards, winning the game for the Bears; it was his 5th touchdown through 27 career games. Now he's played 39 games and still stuck at 5. 

"This is the longest it’s ever been in my life , playing football, without an interception, without a touchdown – ever," he said. "So it’s getting stressful. I’m just happy we won the last game, but just being that type of competitor, you want the ball. It’s going to come, that’s all I can tell myself." 

His numbers, outside of turnovers, are also down, but Jackson still feels like he's playing well. Through his first two seasons he earned a reputation for always being around the ball, and for whatever reason, that just hasn't been the case so far in 2019. 

"I’m one of my biggest critics, so I just feel like I need to get in more positions to make plays, if that makes any sense," he said. "Like I said, it’s a different system, there are different things, so you’ve just got to buy in and control what you can control. And that’s dominating my square and my man. Wherever I’m in, just got to dominate that." 

The Bears spent Tuesday morning watching game tape from last year's Rams game, which in theory bodes well for Jackson's confidence. Not only did he play well (1 INT), but the Bears shut down a Rams offense that had scored 30 points or more in four straight games. Holding LA to a couple field goals was one of the biggest moments of the Bears' season. 

"Our preparation in practice was dead on," Jackson said. "Details, everyone was locked in. We knew it was going to be a tough game, and for us to come out and stand up how we stood up last year, it was some sight to see." 

The Bears will try and replicate that type of performance on Sunday night, and with the game-plan focused on forcing Goff to throw from the pocket, Jackson's going to get his chances. He admitted that there have been other chances throughout this season that he's been tempted to 'cheat' on, but has tried to stay disciplined within his first NFL system change. 

"You don’t want to press too much," he said. "It’s hard doing that, especially having the type of secondary that we have back there and even the type of confidence I have in myself and the type of player I am, you want to jump things.

"I’m just happy we won the last game, but just being that type of competitor, you want the ball. It’s going to come, that’s all I can tell myself." 

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Chris Simms says Bears are a dangerous team entering Week 15

Chris Simms says Bears are a dangerous team entering Week 15

The Bears have completely flipped the narrative of their 2019 season over the last three weeks, thanks in large part to Matt Nagy's offense finally resembling the 202-level that was promised last summer.

It may have taken quarterback Mitch Trubisky a little longer than expected to arrive this year, but if his last two games are an indication of his development in his second season under Nagy's tutelage, the Bears have a bonafide quarterback. And it's been a while since that could be said.

"Mitchell Trubisky is hot, there's no doubt about it," NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms said Thursday. "He seems so much more comfortable. Decisive. He's accurate with the football. Running around at the proper time. I don't think it was all Mitchell Trubisky's fault with the struggles of the offense, either."

Those struggles spanned the first half of 2019 when Chicago seemed incapable of sustaining drives or scoring points. It began with Week 1's three-point output against the Packers and continued through Thanksgiving Day when Trubisky finally got his mojo back, throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns against the Lions.

With Trubisky clicking, and the running game receiving a jolt from rookie David Montgomery's productive back-to-back weeks (in which he's averaged more than four yards per carry in successive games for the first time all year), the Bears appear capable of beating just about anyone. 

They'll need to. If Chicago wants to keep their weak playoff pulse going, they have to win out. And that includes games against the Packers, Chiefs and Vikings. 

The odds seem stacked against them, and it's their own fault. It took way too long to get the offense going, but it's better late than never. 

According to Simms, the Bears are that team no one wants to play.

"They're a dangerous team right now. They really are."

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Bears QB Big Board, 6.0: It's Mitch Trubisky's job to lose

Bears QB Big Board, 6.0: It's Mitch Trubisky's job to lose

Just when it appeared like Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky was entering his final half-season as the team's unquestioned starting quarterback, the last month happened.

Trubisky's play has steadily improved over the last five games and reached what may have been his watermark moment in Week 14 against the Cowboys. He completed 74% of his passes for 244 yards and three passing touchdowns while adding a season-high 63 rushing yards and a score on the ground. It marked the second week in a row that Trubisky's completed over 74% of his passes; he connected on 76% of his throws a week earlier against the Lions.

Trubisky's recent success is a far cry from the mentally broken player he was after the first month of the season. He has his confidence back. In fact, he's playing with more confidence than he's ever shown as a pro. His recent success is a direct and obvious result of his evolution between the ears.

The Bears were circled as a team that was likely to be in the quarterback market this offseason because of how terrible Trubisky looked early in 2019. And there's still a chance that GM Ryan Pace will look to add some healthy competition to the roster, but if Trubisky continues to play well, that competition will be for the backup job. 

It's also worth noting that one of the more appealing quarterback targets this offseason probably won't make it to the open market. Titans starter Ryan Tannehill continues to enjoy a remarkable comeback season and appears destined to sign a long-term extension with Tennessee sooner than later. After Tannehill, the discount quarterback rack includes names like Andy Dalton and Marcus Mariota, players who a month ago would've been viewed as marked upgrades over Trubisky.

It doesn't feel like that's the case anymore.

Barring a massive regression from Trubisky over the next three games, it's starting to feel like he's winning back Chicago's confidence one game at a time. 

With all that in mind, here's the updated Bears QB Big Board entering Week 15:

Bears QB Big Board (Dec. 12, 2019)

1. Mitch Trubisky (Bears)
previous: 2 (Dec. 3)

2. Andy Dalton (Bengals)
previous: 1 (Dec. 3)

3. Ryan Tannehill (Titans)
previous: 3  (Dec. 3)

4. Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma)
previous: 4 (Dec. 3)

5. Marcus Mariota (Titans)
previous: 5 (Dec. 3)

6. Teddy Bridgewater (Saints)
previous: 6 (Dec. 3)

Outside looking in (list cut down to three)...

-Jake Fromm (Georgia)
previous: outside looking in (Dec. 3)

-Jameis Winston (Buccaneers)
previous: outside looking in (Dec. 3)

- Cam Newton (Panthers)
previous: outside looking in (Dec. 3)

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