Bears coach Matt Eberflus announced safety Eddie Jackson as the team's honorary captain for Sunday's game against the Texans.
Jackson, who is in his sixth season with the Bears, has totaled 12 tackles, one tackle-for-loss and one pass breakup through two games. The safety also had a fourth-quarter interception against the 49ers in Week 1 that led to a game-sealing touchdown.
"I mean we have a really good group of guys," Eberflus said. "Guys really work hard, and we think Eddie's been really playing well the first two games. I think he's deserving of it. He is a leader. Like I said, all of us are leaders by the way we model our behavior and he's done a great job with that in terms of his hustle, his hitting and his production the first two games, so he's well deserving of it."
Jackson's message to his team this week is "to keep working and get one percent better." The veteran said the players have put Sunday night's loss behind them and have high energy heading into Week 3.
"It's always a blessed opportunity to be named captain, to go out there and lead our guys, especially after the tough loss," Jackson said. "[We] wanna go out there and basically just set the tempo, set the tone on how we work, how we prepare, how we take those approaches in the game and how we play. So, it's definitely a big opportunity and I'm grateful for it."
The Bears listed four players on the Wednesday injury report. Linebacker Roquan Smith (hip), tight end Ryan Griffin (Achilles), safety Dane Cruikshank (hamstring) and receiver Velus Jones Jr. (hamstring) did not practice. Jones has missed the first two games of the season.
Missed tackles inexcusable
Following Sunday's loss to the Packers, Eberflus noted the multitude of missed tackles that contributed to Green Bay's 414 total yards of offense. Eberflus said the Bears "have to do a better job of that" to limit big plays.
On Wednesday, Eberflus continued to stress the need for better tackling this week.
"You're not tolerant [of missed tackles] at all," Eberflus said. "It's something we have to correct and we're going to work tirelessly to get that done. But a lot of times it happens early in the year. I remember a few years ago, I think it might have been 2019, we didn't have a good tackling game. It was early in the season and you just gotta get guys to get up on the runner and get their pads on them at the proper level, and then have a strong wrap and run your feet. A lot of times missed tackles happen because you're lunging and not getting up on the runners. So, we're going to work [in] individual [drills] today on that and just get better at it."
Eberflus isn't worried about the players' focus when it comes to tackling; he believes technique is the concern. Eberflus said defenders are tackling too high rather than executing the hamstring tackle that he teaches.
Eberflus wants the players to tackle lower and get their pads between waist and knee level of the runner. The hamstring tackles allows the defender to become a longer player with a stronger wrap.
"It's real simple," Eberflus said. "If you take a person's legs away, they can't run. So, you wanna do that and it's been proven to us that when you do that, you put guys sideways or backwards. We did it a few times over the first couple games, but we need to see it more consistently."
Lovie returns to Chicago
Former Bears coach Lovie Smith will return to Soldier Field on Sunday as head coach of the Texans. Smith, who spent nine seasons as the Bears' head coach, previously returned to Chicago in 2014 as Buccaneers head coach.
While Eberflus has never worked with Smith, he has deep respect for the longtime NFL coach. Eberflus and Smith both have close relationships with longtime NFL coach Rod Marinelli and former Colts and Buccaneers head coach Tony Dungy.
"I know Lovie as an acquaintance," Eberflus said. "We certainly would talk if we see each other face-to-face and we have done that. Just appreciation for what he has done for the game of football. He's had his units playing the right way, has respected the game the right way, and the accomplishments he's had. He's been a head coach for a long time and he's been steady that way and really good. I just appreciate that from him. And what kind of man he is, too, just from hearing from coach Rod and everybody else, coach Dungy, all of the guys I have contact with more, just what they say about him."
Familiarity with Texans defense
Smith is known for running the Tampa-2 defense, which through two weeks has allowed just 36 points and three touchdowns against the Colts and Broncos.
While Houston's defense has troubled experienced quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson this season, recording six total sacks, it's a 4-3 scheme that the Bears offense practiced against all training camp.
"They're a very similar style," Eberflus said. "They will come out and play varying coverages. Their front's going to be pretty much the same. But they do take off and they do cause some penetration with their front, and the way they disguise their coverages, I think is really good, too. Lovie's run this system a long time; he's mixed in a couple new things that we've seen and it's been good for them on a down-to-down basis."
Justin Fields expressed his familiarity with the Texans' defensive scheme, but still expects a "hard fight all day." The quarterback credited Houston's defense for playing hard and fast, similar to the Bears defensive unit.
The Bears returned to the practice fields at Halas Hall Wednesday afternoon to continue preparing for Sunday's matchup with the Houston Texans at Soldier Field.