Joniak's Journal: Bears' Eddie Jackson Displaying Elite Instincts

November 26, 2018 - 7:26 pm
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By Jeff Joniak--

(WBBM Newsradio) The Bears improved to 8-3 with a 23-16 win against the Lions last Thursday. When the players return to work Wednesday, their attention will be on preparing for a matchup against the Giants (3-8) on Sunday.

First impression

For this point forward, we might as well call it a "quick six Jackson" when Bears safety Eddie Jackson produces a defensive touchdown. He defines sudden change right now. Jackson's interception return for a touchdown against the Vikings in a win on Nov. 18 came on the first snap after a series change out of a timeout. On Thursday, he did it again in reading the fixated eyes of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on tight end Michael Roberts, return an interception for the game-winning score with six minutes remaining. 

In a win against the Bills on Nov. 4, Jackson had a forced fumble that he scooped and returned for a score, which gives him three defensive touchdowns in the last four games. He had a two-touchdown game in 2017, when he went 76 yards to pay dirt on an interception and 75 yards on a fumble return.

Jackson's five defensive touchdowns -- across the past 21 games -- are the most in the league since 2015. At Alabama, he scored five touchdowns in his last 18 games -- two on punt returns and three on interception returns. That gives him 10 touchdowns in his past 39 games.

Second thought

With the ball in his hands, Jackson knows what to do with it. He's swift and instinctive in the open field. In a moment of need, he could easily field a punt or two this season. Twice in recent weeks, Bears coach Matt Nagy has lined Jackson up on offense. And you can bank on Jackson being back out there again on offense sometime. He could get a red zone touch sometime.

Some players just have the knack for making big scoring plays on defense. Jackson is establishing that fact quicker than almost anyone who has worn a Bears uniform. Charles Tillman scored nine touchdowns in his 12-years Bears tenure. Mike Brown scored seven. Lance Briggs scored six. Brian Urlacher scored four. Bennie McRae scored four. 

Dick Butkus scored one. Mike Singletary scored none.

Third degree

Impact safeties dot rosters of contending teams. Excellence at that position certainly helps propel a defense to a Super Bowl-caliber level.

The Vikings' Harrison Smith is arguably the best all-around safety in the league on a really good defense. Devin McCourty has excelled in the Patriots' title runs. Before him, it was Rodney Harrison in New England, while Troy Polamalu starred in Pittsburgh, as did Ed Reed in Baltimore.

In the 2000s, the Bears had Brown, who when healthy was a bad man on the back end of the defense. 

Jackson is a playmaker and striving for consistency. His instincts are outstanding. He's reading the opponents' plays well. He has missed some tackles this season, but he's aggressively playing his position. 

There's no telling how high Jackson's star will rise. He has natural leadership skills, and teammates respond to him. Jackson isn't elite yet, but he's on his way to a great career.

Fourth-and-short

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky remains day-to-day as he rehabs his sore shoulder. He missed the Bears' win last Thursday. 

"He’s got to just continue to keep rehabbing it and being honest with the trainers and the trainers being honest with the coaches on where he’s at," Nagy said on WBBM Newsradio 780 on Monday morning.

If Trubisky isn't ready this week, Nagy remains at ease with veteran backup quarterback Chase Daniel getting another start. Daniel didn't have a single full practice to prepare for the Lions, just walk-throughs. If he's the starter this Sunday, he'd have more reps under his belt.

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.​​