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Slowing Down Speedy DeSean Jackson Is Top Priority For Bears

By Chris Emma--

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) -- With a crucial Monday Night Football game on the line in the fourth quarter and divisional ground at stake, receiver DeSean Jackson pumped up the crowd as he awaited a chance to bring Washington to victory.

Jackson fielded the punt deep in Washington territory, ran to the 24-yard line -- and then something bizarre happened. The talented returner avoided a wall of Dallas defenders by running backward -- 21 yards, as a matter of fact, and nearly into the end zone. He was greeted by several Cowboys at the 9-yard line, then fumbled the football, a loss of possession for his team that proved costly.

"It was like, 'Oh, no, oh, no; oh, yes, oh, yes; oh, no, oh, no," Washington coach Jay Gruden said. "It added a few grey hairs on my head."

When Washington got the ball back, quarterback Kirk Cousins hit Jackson on a go route down the sidelines for the game-tying 28-yard touchdown. Suddenly, Jackson had avenged his ghastly gaffe, going from goat to hero. Still, Dallas would go on to win the game 19-16, and Washington stayed at a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East at 5-7.

Much of the nation watched the primetime broadcast, including many members of the Bears. They watched in confusion as Jackson sprinted backward toward his own end zone, attempting to make a play, then marveled at his breakaway speed for the touchdown catch-and-run.

"He redeemed himself a little bit," Bears cornerback Tracy Porter said. "But that's what he does. He's a speed guy that can make you pay with the deep ball."

Explained Cousins: "He's a difference-maker for us, a talented player."

With what was shown Monday combined with a quality eight-year NFL career filled with big plays, Jackson comes to Soldier Field on Sunday as a marked man for the Bears. He's the explosive player who Chicago must be ready to handle.

Jackson's season has been marred with injuries that have cost him six games. He has just 18 catches and three touchdowns in 2015. Still, he has that ability to change a game with his speed.

"The guy is extremely fast," Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "Unlike a lot of guys that are extremely fast, he's fast in a hurry. He gets into high gear quicker than anybody."

Part of containing Jackson is pressing him at the line of scrimmage, Fangio said, though that presents the concern that he could make a move and get free. The Bears must have their safeties ready to spot Jackson, because he can make them pay.

Slowing down Jackson will be one of the Bears' most important keys on defense and special teams.

"DeSean's a guy that with a minute and a half to go in the game," Gruden said, "there's nobody in this league that I'd rather have the ball in the hands of."

Chris Emma covers the Chicago sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.  

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