Bears safety Eddie Jackson understands fans booing team, but ‘that’s not helping’
Jackson said an already difficult situation has been exacerbated by fans booing the team at home and chanting for coach Matt Nagy to be fired.
The Bears caught a break in the public-relations department by having Soldier Field empty all last season. While they took a hit financially, they avoided the ugly recurring scene of coach Matt Nagy and his team regularly getting booed off the field.
But fans have returned this season. And they haven’t held back.
From booing starting quarterback Andy Dalton in the preseason to chanting “Fire Nagy” and “Nagy sucks” this month, they’ve been loud. They’ve had enough, and they’re disgusted with everything about a season in which the Bears sit 4-7 and have scored the fourth-fewest points in the NFL.
And safety Eddie Jackson implying Monday that they should knock it off is probably going to have the opposite effect.
“We hate it, honestly,” said Jackson, who has heard his share of heckling over missed tackles this season. “The fans gotta understand that doesn’t help anything. Y’all want us to play better, [but] that’s not helping when you’re all sitting up there and chanting that.
“But I get it, the frustration. Bears fans have been going through this for a long, long time, so I understand it, but it’s not helping the situation. It’s just making it worse.”
There’s no doubt it’s making Sundays more unpleasant, but booing and railing against Nagy is the fans’ best way to be heard. And if the Bears start sluggishly Sunday against the Cardinals, Soldier Field will rumble again.
When it reaches the point where players are petitioning the fans to stop booing, things have gone horribly wrong.
Jackson was reasonable and stopped far short of scolding, so let’s not overdramatize it. He empathized and added, “We owe it to Chicago to go out here and play our best ball.”
But if the booing annoys him, he should complain to those who created this hostile work environment. The Bears’ home stadium would be friendlier if they were playing decently or at least showing signs that they were headed in the right direction.
Instead, here’s what fans saw the last three times Soldier Field opened its gates:
† Supervillain Aaron Rodgers throwing his 21-5 career record against the Bears in their faces while he screamed, accurately, “All my [expletive] life, I own you.”
† Jimmy Garoppolo looking like an MVP candidate as he led the 49ers to a double-digit win.
† Nagy butchering his timeouts against the Ravens, followed by a blown coverage in the final minutes as they coughed up the game to a young backup quarterback making his first career start.
Those snafus and others trace back to chairman George McCaskey’s decision to keep virtually everything the same after back-to-back 8-8 seasons put Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace in the impossible position of trying to rebuild but also needing to win now.
Had McCaskey stood at the 50-yard line at a packed Soldier Field when he announced he was retaining those two, that would’ve been booed, too. And that’s the point. Their boos might be directed at Jackson, Nagy and others on the surface, but they’re really for McCaskey.
And when it was clear Nagy couldn’t save this season, it became obvious that he couldn’t save his job, either. It seems like a foregone conclusion that he’ll get fired, but the Bears needlessly delaying the inevitable is antagonizing their fans.
At this point, the booing is irrepressible, and there’s no use in Jackson or anyone else trying to quiet it.
“If we come to y’all jobs and boo y’all, how y’all going to feel about it?” Jackson asked rhetorically. “So [Nagy] is still human. We’re still human. Nobody likes it. So we just continue to fight and just block out the noise.”
The only certainty is that the noise will continue. And if the Bears keep stumbling, it’ll only get louder.