Joniak: Jackson Draws Praise During Super Bowl Week

Eddie Jackson had six interceptions during his Pro Bowl season in 2018.

Jeff Joniak
February 01, 2019 - 4:57 pm
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ATLANTA (WBBM Newsradio) -- As the Rams and Patriots prepare to play for the championship Sunday, here are the latest Super Bowl storylines and notes from Friday.

First impression

At the Super Bowl in Minneapolis last year, the Bears' footprint was small. In Atlanta, it's much different. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, running back Tarik Cohen and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks made appearances in the the media center, being shuffled around by various companies marketing their products on a national stage. Trubisky was representing Gatorade and spent time with Sirius XM NFL Radio explaining the impact of first-year coach Matt Nagy on Trubisky's second professional season.

"His passion for the game, his energy he brings on a daily basis -- he’s just a guy you want to be around," Trubisky said. "He’s just so genuine, down to earth. He’s a great teacher."

Trubisky’s excitement about Nagy is clear. 

"We were able to be on the same page," Trubisky said. "It was just me and him going through all the reads, breaking it down where he wanted me to go with the ball. He’s not afraid to change, be dynamic and do what fits our personnel and our style. We were always changing, adding things -- and nothing was to outside the box."

As the Bears move forward, Trubisky's continued development and growth will be the most significant factor in their progress.

Second thought

One of the primary reasons tight end Trey Burton decided to sign with the Bears last offseason was the franchise's history. He embraces the past while he builds his future. The team’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winner, Burton is moved by the honor.

"Just even thinking about it just makes me smile," Burton said. "I’ve never heard one person even say one thing remotely bad about Walter. That’s a statement to who he was on and off the field."

Burton did his own research on Payton to understand why the award carries his name.

"He’s kind of been the pioneer for the modern athlete," Burton said. "He was one of the first to start his own business. I started my own business.  He’s one of the first ones to do stuff in the community at a really high level and kind of use his ability as a platform. It’s humbling. I’m so honored to be even in the same breath as him."

This marks the first year all 32 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year finalists were invited to Super Bowl week. The winner will be announced at the NFL honors event Saturday night.

Third degree

The performance of Pro Bowl safety Eddie Jackson of the Bears was a hot topic this week. Making plays on the ball put him on the map, and he's proving to be one of general manager Ryan Pace’s best draft picks.  

Jackson is one of many standout products of the Alabama secondary during Nick Saban’s reign as head coach. Rams safety/linebacker Mark Barron, another one of them, shared why so many talented Alabama defensive backs land on NFL rosters. 

"In part, it’s because of the culture," Barron said. "They teach you how to work. You go in and you got to work. You have to learn how to put in the work to be a champion. That’s one part of it. The big part of it is scheme."

Barron has played in four different NFL schemes, and he believes the defense he played in at Alabama is as complicated as any at the professional level. Getting on the field at Alabama requires understanding complex and multiple schemes.

Barron was a second-round pick of the Rams in 2012. So he didn’t play with Jackson, but he likes his game. 

"He had a great year," Barron said. "I am so happy for him. He just did the same thing he was doing at Alabama, scoring touchdowns, big plays. He’s just the same player."

The last of Jackson’s six interceptions in 2018 came on Dec. 16 and ended Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' NFL record of 402 consecutive passes without an interception. Jackson suffered an ankle injury on the play that ended his season. He also led all NFL safeties with 16 passes defended. 

His coverage abilities, ball skills and instincts are still being cultivated. The Bears' hope is the influence of new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano will continue to draw out the best in Jackson, who's also a dangerous runner with the ball in his hands. He has five defensive touchdowns in his first two NFL seasons. given his five defensive touchdowns. 

Fourth-and-short

Nagy is headed to Atlanta for the Saturday night festivities as well, as he's a finalist for the NFL Coach of the Year award. He established a culture that led the Bears to a 12-4 mark and NFC North title.

"It was the most fun I have ever had playing football," Trubisky said.

Nagy has already won the Pro Football Writers of America Coach of the Year award. Lovie Smith had been the last Bears coach to earn that honor, back in 2005.

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