Skip to main content

Eddie Jackson's Guiding Hand in Secondary

With an interception and forced fumble, Eddie Jackson got the shorthanded, young Bears secondary through the loss of Jaylon Johnson.

If Eddie Jackson felt a bit like a baby sitter at times Sunday, there's a good reason.

On a good day inexperience in the Bears secondary is always an issue, but in Sunday's 23-20 win over the Houston Texans it was Jackson playing with three rookies and Kindle Vildor making his 16th NFL start. That's the equivalent of playing with four rookie starters but they pulled together with Jaylon Johnson out due to a hamstring injury.

Jackson handled it himself with a red zone interception off of Vildor's pass breakup and a forced fumble, as the Bears secondary rebounded from early mistakes to shut it down en route to the win.

"Jackson, the one interception by them and we answered with our interception in the end zone," coach Matt Eberflus said. "What a great job there. Forced a fumble and thought he performed really well and the defense performed really well in the sudden-change moments we always talk about."

How long the Bears will be without Johnson is uncertain but they had undrafted rookie Jaylon Jones on the field in their nickel on the right side in his place. In the base package, Kyler Gordon shifted over from nickel.

Trying to help hold together all of that inexperience might have been a bigger accomplishment by Jackson than the interception he made in the end zone off Vildor's tip.

"You know. it's just that next-man-up mentality, you know, getting these young guys ready, to prepare, you know, like today," Jackson said. "It was just overcommunicate with them you know just making sure they know what they're in. You know: alignment, assignment and techniques. So that's that's the biggest thing."

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Losing Johnson was critical because opposing quarterbacks have stayed away from him, targeting the younger players instead. With Johnson out, the ball is likely to go anywhere and it did in the first three quarters for the Texans Sunday until the Bears shut it off in the fourth quarter.

"It always hurts when a guy like that goes down," Jackson said. "You know everyone sees what he brings to the table to our defense, you know, zero targets. So when a guy like that is down other guys got to step up and we have a lot of young guys that's doing a lot of a lot of good things early."

Gordon did get beat on a 52-yard pass across the middle to Chris Moore early but tightened things up later following his poor night in Week 2 at Green Bay.

Vildor had two pass breakups, including the one Jackson intercepted. In all, the secondary had four pass breakups. 

The rookies may need to continue this. Hamstrings are never easy to predict as rookie wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. can attest. He went out after the second preseason game and still is waiting to make his pro debut going into Week 4 at the Giants on Sunday.

"They did a nice job," Eberflus said. "Couple of rookies, three rookies in the secondary, and I thought they performed. They did a nice job and certainly I talked to them in there and everything is a learning experience and you can get better from every performance."

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven