As new Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano begins to get more familiar with his new players, he sees in one of them a player with whom Pagano is very familiar.
Safety Eddie Jackson reminds Pagano of former Ravens safety Ed Reed.
“From a talent standpoint? Very, very similar,” Pagano said this week, via Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “Great instincts. Great range. Great ball skills. He’s only three years into it. Ed has a lot more time on task, obviously. He’s got a lot of the same traits. He loves football. He’s a football junkie. And again, the sky’s the limit for a guy like that. . . .When you know the defense and you know what you’re doing and then you can spend all your time figuring out the offense and being one step ahead, that’s where he’s got an edge on everybody. He’s very similar to Reed.”
The talent is there. The coaching staff now needs to turn the talent into performance.
“He had a great year last year — but that was then,” safeties coach Sean Desai said, via Finley. “He knows that. We’re going to challenge him in a way that we see, and he sees, the small areas he can improve. . . . In this league, it’s about one step and one inch. If you can get him one step faster than he was last year, that could lead to more plays he can make. If you get him one inch closer, that can lead to more plays.”
Last year, Jackson intercepted six passes, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
Pagano coached Reed in Baltimore, and Pagano now has a chance to coach Jackson, a fourth-round pick in 2017 who enters his third NFL season with high expectations that he apparently has the ability to achieve. If he does, the Bears will be in great position to repeat as NFC North champions.