When Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus took over the Bears, they overhauled the roster in a big way. Eddie Jackson, however, ended up as one of a few veterans on an expensive contract who stuck with the team. Jackson is coming off of two disappointing seasons where he didn’t produce up to his expectations. A bright spotlight shined on him, and he drew the ire of Bears fans more than their admiration. But the Bears have made it clear that they want Jackson to forget about his past, and focus on his future with a clean slate. He’s on board with that mentality, too.
“You can approach this thing different ways,” Jackson said. “You can approach it like, ‘Oh man, here we go, starting over.’ You can approach it like, ‘Man, it’s a fresh start, new coaches. I’m all in.’ Personally, I just feel like the years I had, I wasn’t satisfied with them, didn’t live up to expectations and standards that I set for myself. So to go out there this year is like a whole new start, whole new season, whole new team. It’s like I feel like a rookie coming in again, just learning, soaking up this game, man, and leading my guys the way I work, and the way I do things.”
Jackson has eschewed personal goals this year, in favor of a more team-oriented approach. He wants to be the best version of himself, so that he is making the biggest impact for the defense as a whole. Jackson is focused on being more of a leader, and mentoring the young defensive backs like Jaquan Brisker. Jackson feels great with his new outlook, too.
“Mentally, physically, emotionally, you know it’s a lot of different things, just at ease with everything,” Jackson said. “You’re at peace, and just comfortable right now with the team we have, the way we’re working, the scheme, everything we’ve been through so far, the coaches, just getting that feel that everyone’s comfortable and just ready to work, man. Ready for the season to start. Still got a few things to clean up, but on our end, I feel like we’ve been doing a lot of good things, especially on the defensive side of the ball, so I’m just happy and excited.”
It’s not surprising to hear Jackson is happy and excited for the new year to begin. With Brisker beside him, Jackson has almost exclusively played free safety, where he succeeds the most. Friday marked the first time we’ve seen Jackson shade into the box, and it was a brief experiment. For now, it looks like Jackson will be back doing what he does best: ranging the backfield to make plays on the ball. We’ve seen the benefits already, with a pick on a tipped ball, and a play where Jackson could’ve forced a fumble with an enormous hit, if hitting was allowed this time of year. We’ll see if those good vibes continue when the defense starts playing for real.