Bears safety Eddie Jackson has been named the NFC defensive player of the week for his performance in last Thursday's 23-16 win over the Detroit Lions.
For the second time in five days, Jackson returned an interception for a key second-half touchdown in a one-score victory over a division opponent.
His 27-yard TD return helped lift the Bears to a 25-20 win over the Vikings Nov. 18 at Soldier Field and his 41-yarder on Thanksgiving in Detroit snapped a 16-16 tie and gave the Bears a 23-16 victory over the Lions.
"He's very instinctual," coach Matt Nagy said Monday night on the Bears Coaches Show on WBBM Newsradio 780 AM and 105.9 FM. "He understands the game. He knows when to anticipate the throws from the quarterback. You see him everywhere. He is literally all over the place. He's a risk-taker, which is good. He's calculated; he knows when to take risks."
Jackson has now scored five defensive touchdowns in two seasons with the Bears, three more than any other NFL player and more than 21 NFL teams during that span.
"I've never seen anything like him," said defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. "He can cover the entire field it seems like sometimes. He knows how to get the ball in his hands, and when he gets the ball in his hands he can make his way to the end zone. It's awesome."
Jackson leads the NFL with three defensive touchdowns this season. He scored two last year as a rookie, both in a 17-3 win over the Panthers. In returning a fumble 75 yards and an interception 76 yards for scores, he became the first player in NFL history to produce two defensive touchdowns of at least 75 yards in a game.
"When you think of the ballhawks like Ed Reed and like an Asante Samuel, those guys who just go after the ball and score, Eddie has the same characteristics as them—how he reads the ball, how he reads the plays," said cornerback Prince Amukamara.
"It's like a closer for us. When we need a play, when we need to be able to score—you saw it against the Vikings and then you saw it against the Lions—he just always shows up. Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games, and he's been doing that."
The last NFL player with pick-sixes in back-to-back games was the Dolphins' Reshad Jones in 2015. The last Bears to accomplish the feat were Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs, who both did it in back-to-back wins over the Cowboys and Jaguars in 2012.
Jackson's five defensive touchdowns are tied for the most by a player in his first two NFL seasons, matching the Jets' Erik McMillian in 1988-89.
"[Jackson] has great ball skills," Nagy said. "He's going to catch the football, and it doesn't matter what type of catch it is. He's like a receiver back there. The other part that's really good about seeing what Eddie does is once he makes the catch, he becomes that punt returner and he becomes a wide receiver and a good one.
"When you have all that, you put it all together, you're successful you get touchdowns, and even when you don't get touchdowns, you get the interceptions. It's always great for the team."
Jackson received a seal of approval on social media from Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack, who was voted the NFC defensive player of the month for September. In retweeting a graphic showing that Jackson led the NFL with five defensive touchdowns this year, Mack endorsed his teammate for the league's defensive player of the year award, simply writing: "DPOY."
This is Jackson's second NFC player of the week award; he also was honored in Week 7 last year following his two-touchdown performance against the Panthers. He's the fourth Bears player to win a weekly award this season, joining linebacker Danny Trevathan (Week 2), quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (Week 10) and kicker Cody Parkey (Week 11).