From last to champs, the Chicago Bears‘ 2018 campaign was a memorable change in franchise fortune and momentum.
Claiming Chicago’s first NFC North crown and playoff berth since 2010, the Bears‘ success was historic, but the season’s conclusion seems to still be lingering — and motivating.
Amid the summer break free from football and hosting a charity softball exhibition, Bears safety Eddie Jackson finds himself still galvanized by his squad’s bitter NFC Wild Card loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
“Everything — how short, and how far, we came,” Jackson told the Chicago Sun Times’ Patrick Finley when asked what will keep him motivated through the summer respite. “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.”
A sterling 12-4 record produced more victories than the previous two regular seasons combined for the Bears, who won four in a row heading into the playoffs and nine of their last 10. A turnaround year and then some, the Bears erased a skid of four consecutive last-place division finishes. It all came to heartbreaking halt with the double-doink loss. Having quickly become a bitterly memorable part of Chicago sports chronicle, the “double doink” refers to a blocked kick from Cody Parkey that hit the field goal post twice before the boot and the Bears‘ season fell in defeat, the season closing with a 16-15 loss to the Eagles.
That defeat — now five months removed — has Jackson and the Bears motivated and believing 2019 can and will reach far better heights.
“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.”
While the Bears‘ past season very much announced their presence among the NFL hierarchy, Jackson also introduced himself as one of the elite among league safeties.
In his second pro season, Jackson earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro status on the heels of producing six interceptions (two for touchdowns), 15 passes defended and 51 tackles.
Now, as the summer burns away and the Bears‘ practice field is empty, Jackson won’t let his mind stray too far from the gridiron.
“Come back and still watch film and stay on top of everything,” he said. “Just take care of your body. Relax a little bit. Don’t lose that taste for football.”
It’s a bitter taste it would seem, but one that has Jackson and his teammates aiming to accomplish even more.