Eddie Jackson named NFC’s Defensive Player of Week 12
Eddie Jackson was named the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Week, the third consecutive week and fourth time this season a Bears player has taken home one of the conference’s weekly individual honors.
Jackson put the Bears’ Thanksgiving win in Detroit on ice with a 41-yard pick-six midway through the fourth quarter, his second consecutive week with a game-winning interception returned for a touchdown. Jackson, who tallied three tackles, two passes defensed and the pick in Detroit, has only been in the NFL for two seasons, but his five return touchdowns are the most by a defender since 2015, two years before his arrival.
“Winning by that touchdown with Eddie, he’s had an unbelievable season so far,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said afterward. “(It’s) one that I don’t know if I’ve ever seen. The players feed off of each other on that.”
Jackson has four of the Bears’ NFL-leading 24 interceptions, second only to Kyle Fuller, who leads the NFL in passes defensed and is the league co-leader with five picks. The Bears’ ball-hawking safety, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2017 draft, also made two big plays during a three-play sequence on the series prior, when the Bears held Detroit to a field goal in a 13-all game in the fourth quarter.
“He’s playing on another level right now,” Nagy said. “He’s very instinctual. He’s playing with a lot of confidence. I haven’t been around too many guys -- safeties and defensive backs -- that have the awareness and instincts that he has. And then he’s got great ball skills. A lot of times we joke that these DBs are back there because they can’t catch. Well, he doesn’t fall into that category. This guy could be playing some wide receiver.”
Jackson is playing at a Pro Bowl, if not All-Pro level, in his second season. Even before his second consecutive turning-point play in a win, we wondered after the Vikings game whether he belongs in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation, too.
For now, the 8-3, first-place Bears will gladly take the weekly individual accolades as they work their way toward a much bigger goal. Cody Parkey was named the NFC’s Special Teams Player of Week 12. Mitch Trubisky earned the conference’s top honor on offense one week earlier. And Danny Trevathan kicked off the fun in Week 2, following the win over the Seahawks. With a player in all three phases being recognized, it’s another signal of the dangerous and enviable balance this year’s Bears team boasts.
Elsewhere around the league, Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt was named the AFC’s top Week 12 defender after tallying nine tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble in the victory over the Titans on “Monday Night Football.” The NFC’s top offensive player is new Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper, who scored two long touchdowns in the fourth quarter of his team’s Thanksgiving-day win over Washington en route to 180 receiving yards. And Philip Rivers, who set the NFL record with 25 consecutive completions to begin the Los Angeles Chargers’ rout of the Arizona Cardnals, was a shoo-in for AFC honors.
The Baltimore Ravens’ Cyrus Jones (70-yard punt return TD) and the Seattle Seahawks’ Sebastian Janikowski (made all six kicks, including the game-winner to beat Carolina) are the top Week 12 specialists.