The Chicago Bears got trounced by the Los Angeles Rams in the week one opener led by Matthew Stafford. The defense did not have an answer for the explosive passing attack of the Rams as the unit gave up multiple big plays down the field. This should not be a big shock to Bears fans who have been following the team throughout training camp. The secondary was on top of the list of areas that were a concern for the team.
The secondary was the main culprit, specifically the safeties. Neither guy had a great game but all eyes are on Eddie Jackson who continues to not look like the All-Pro we all knew back in 2018.
Once touted as the next Ed Reed after his 2018 season, once that extension was signed the regression clock started. We as fans have witnessed the various stages of Jackson’s career. He was an All-Pro level Free Safety in 2018 and became a below-average defender with a horrible contract currently in 2021.
It has been a huge fall from grace for Jackson and one must wonder if he is playing his way out of Chicago. So could a change in the starting lineup be happening soon? If Jackson continues this year with similar performances, the coaches will need to make a tough decision. Do they put a safety that is currently the fifth highest-paid at his position on the bench?
The Chicago Bears need to do something to make Eddie Jackson good again.
At some point, head coach Matt Nagy will need to hold players that are not performing up to their contracts accountable. If at the very least, his coaches must put him in a better position to make plays. One crazy suggestion is making him the team’s nickel back in their sub-packages. The thinking behind this idea is that it gives him more opportunities to make plays on the football.
If you’re defensive coordinator Sean Desai, knowing you have issues at Nickelback and safety, you could experiment with Jackson as your slot CB and make Tashaun Gipson and Deon Bush your starting two safeties. Of course, they should give this time and see how it all plays out after a few weeks so they can see if Jackson is playing better at his natural position.
However, this position change could further extend Jackson’s career and allow him to play at an elevated level late into his career. In today’s NFL, the nickel position is gradually becoming more premium than the safety position. Considering more than half the time you are closer to the play than at safety, Jackson could be an x-factor from the Nickelback spot.
Tyrann Mathieu is the gold standard of a safety that moved to nickel and excelled. Before they feel tempted to have all that money sitting on the bench, the coaches should call Jackson into the office and propose why this position switch will make him a better player. Otherwise, if Jackson does not improve his play at safety and is not a fan of a position switch, 2021 could be his last in a Bears uniform.