That was the conclusion the Bears safety reached during a recent session with reporters. Although Jackson had two interception returns for touchdowns nullified by penalties, he finished the season with no picks for the first time in his career.
"I hold myself to a high standard," Jackson said. "Everyone here does the same. So, I'm just going to go with a bad year. It was down. Even though they took away the touchdowns, I feel like there were some things I could've done better and capitalized better than just tripping over two touchdowns that got called back."
Jackson could make excuses about his two pick sixes that were erased or why he didn't produce additional impact plays like the ones that earned him back-to-back Pro Bowl trips in 2018-19. But that's not what players of his caliber do.
"[Khalil] Mack said something that stuck with me a few weeks ago," Jackson said. "He was like, 'the great ones always find ways to make plays.' That just stuck with me. It just changes your whole focus. He's right. He learned that from [one-time Raiders teammate] Charles Woodson. That's just something that's been sticking with me ever since. If you're a great one, you're going to find a way to make a play."
With that lesson from Mack in mind, Jackson is determined to revert to the form he displayed earlier in his career when he became only the second player in NFL history to score five defensive touchdowns in his first two seasons.
Asked if he feels he has something to prove this year, Jackson said: "Oh yeah. Without a doubt. Most definitely … I've got to work hard. I've got to do my job to the best of my ability for the team to do theirs. That's just the mindset. Just know the chip is on my shoulder, man. The chip is on my shoulder for sure.
"Everyone here holds me to a high standard and I hold myself to a high standard. So, I feel like I've got to go out there and [I have] a lot to prove this year."
One of Jackson's goals is to get back into the end zone. While he had two TDs wiped out by penalties last year, one that stood occurred last Oct. 26 when he returned a fumble eight yards for a score against the Rams. With six career defensive touchdowns, he's tied for third in Bears history with Lance Briggs behind Charles Tillman (9) and Mike Brown (7).
Jackson is also focused on improving his tackling in 2021. While he recorded a career-high 82 tackles last season, he feels that it's an area of his game that needs to be better, especially at the point of attack.
"Just running through and finishing on the tackle," Jackson said, "not thinking the next person will make the tackle. The type of player I am, that shouldn't have to be said. That's supposed to be an instinctive thing. [I'm] just trying to get back to it."
“Everyone here holds me to a high standard and I hold myself to a high standard. So, I feel like I’ve got to go out there and have a lot to prove this year.” Bears safety Eddie Jackson
Bears secondary coach Deshea Townsend, an NFL defensive back for 13 seasons with the Steelers and Colts, is helping Jackson sharpen his tackling.
"For him, that is one area he knows he can improve in," Townsend said. "I don't think there's ever been one player that's played flag, touch, that you hadn't missed a tackle. But he understands those are the things that make his part of the game more complete, and I think that's just part of wanting to get better."
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