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Is Reboot for Eddie Jackson Possible?

After two down seasons the veteran safety can use a bounce back and likes the way a new scheme with younger player could help.

Eddie Jackson turns 29 in December and suddenly the two-time Pro Bowl safety is the wise old veteran of a Bears secondary needing direction.

He notices youth all around the defensive backfield and loves what he sees with those players and the team's new scheme.

"It's something different, it's something different," Jackson said. "We're flying around, I can't emphasize that more. Everyone is flying around, the effort we're giving.

"And when you have young guys that's out there that's willing to work, they're willing to take the coaching, they're willing to do whatever it takes to buy in and (are) making plays on the ball."

Jackson hasn't seen this kind of youthful enthusiasm since the 2018 secondary had a big hand in that team's 27 interceptions. They currently have the swag of a young, rising group with rookies Jaquan Brisker, Kyler Gordon and Jaylon Johnson, but it's easy to have this now when they haven't faced quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins or Dak Prescott as they will later.

"Just having that swag, having fun, that's the best thing that I like about the young secondary that we have right now," Jackson said.

It even has Jackson enthusiastically talking about improving his own game, and it's a good idea considering his drop in production, his status as the team's second-highest-paid player and a new coaching/GM regime with allegiance to no one. Playing in a simpler scheme heavily reliant on zone coverage might aid him. 

One part he wants to improve is the route he takes to attacking passes thrown his way.

"Yeah, one of (mistakes) was just point of attack on the ball," Jackson said. "Just little stuff that you don't really pay attention to, like when you're coming out of your break, like round and step, you know just come out, and your angle point.

"That's something that we've really been focused on."

It can explain part of how Jackson went from passer ratings against when targeted of 40.5 and 57.6 in 2018-19 to eight touchdown passes allowed and passer ratings of 143.6 and 110.1 in the last two seasons.

"Well, Eddie's a pretty savvy veteran guy," safeties coach Andre Curtis said. "He realizes the stuff he needs to work on. He brought several things to me as far as fundamentals-wise and stuff that we need to improve upon."

One thing Bears fans like to jump all over is Jackson's tackling, but the statistics do not bear this out.

Jackson never was the greatest tackler, with Sportradar tracking him at 17.7%, 15.5% and 13.7% missed tackles from 2018-2020. Then, last year when it seemed Jackson's tackling drew the ire of Bears followers every other week, he had 9.5% missed. That means he has improved rate of missed tackles every single season, although 9.5% is still probably a hair too high.

"Right now we can't tackle (at practice) but we just work the process of tackling with everybody in our program," Curtis said.

The tackling and hitting begin in camp.

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Look for Jackson's improvement in the new scheme at all aspects of play, whether it's being more physical or making interceptions. He hasn't had an interception since the end of the 2019 season.

"I just love the type of identity the coaches have built here–just flying around, hard-nosed, creating turnovers, putting us in a position to play with our eyes," Jackson said.

He'll need to be playing with his pads, shoulders and hands as well if he's going to be both a leader for a young secondary and the playmaker he had been before 2020.

Eddie Jackson at a Glance

The Vitals: Sixth season, 6-foot, 206 pounds.

Career: 10 interceptions, 342 tackles, 264 solo, 33 pass breakups, eight forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries, six defensive touchdows.

2021: 76 tackles, 54 solo, two pass breakups, one forced fumble.

The Number: 8. Jackson's missed tackle total from 2021, lowest of his career.

2022 FanNation Projection: 79 tackles, 50 solo, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, one recovery, one defensive TD.

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