There appears some bluster blowing out of the Windy City. Chicago safety Eddie Jackson told the Chicago Sun-Times that he believes the Bears are poised to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl since 1986.
Jackson, who qualified for his first Pro Bowl last year, can’t stop thinking about the Bears’ agonizing loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, a game that ended with that mystifying “Double Doink” field goal miss from kicker Cody Parkey. Well, the errant kick was actually blocked by the Eagles’ Treyvon Hester upon further review. Either way, the defeat has galvanized the Bears to come back stronger and better in 2019.
“Everything — how short, and how far, we came,” Jackson told the Chicago Sun Times’ Patrick Finley. “From the losing record to the winning record. How short we came, with the first-round playoff game with the field goal. Right now we just want to build off everything and let that be the fuel to our fire. We plan on taking this whole thing.”
The whole thing, not just winning a playoff round. The 26-year-old was a key contributor on a Bears defense that ranked near the top of every statistical category a season ago, including total defense (third, 299.7 yards per game) and rushing defense (first, 80.0 yards per game).
The unit also led the league in scoring defense, allowing a minuscule 17.7 points per game. Jackson enjoyed a breakout year after recording 51 total tackles, six interceptions and 15 passes defended en route to All-Pro honors. He also ran two of those picks back for touchdowns.
The Bears bring back the core of a team that won the NFC North with a 12-4 record and should be primed to take the next step. They are extra motivated to reach new heights and the energy has been on full display in OTAs and minicamp.
“The vibe is there,” Jackson said. “That will always be there. That’s not changing. You come in and you see everybody on one page, and [they] want to get things done and want to win. That will always be a great vibe.”
They will have to account for lost production at the running back position after losing starter Jordan Howard to the Eagles. Howard racked up 935 yards and nine touchdowns on 250 touches last season for the Bears. Howard took some shots at his former team on the way out, too. He hinted that head coach Matt Nagy’s offense was a bit too predictable and one-dimensional.
In Philadelphia, Howard has an elite offensive line that is loaded with guys who excel at run-blocking. In addition, the coaching staff has already been integrating the bruising tailback more into the passing game. He should shine in their spread attack.
“Like you said, there is one ball. I think they understand that,” Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh told reporters. “Maybe it’s not unique, but one of the things that makes it a lot of fun to come to work every day is really all these guys want to do is win.”