In yesterday’s Windy City Gridiron round table we discussed the cornerback spot opposite Pro Bowler Kyle Fuller, which is one of two positions in the Chicago Bears secondary that is up for grabs. The other defensive back spot with some competition surrounding it is the safety spot next to Pro Bowler Eddie Jackson.
With no preseason games this year, the training camp battle between Deon Bush and Tashaun Gipson will be fought on the practice field and in the classroom. Bush has the edge in familiarity as he’s heading into his fifth year with the Bears, and his second with defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. Gipson, the newcomer, has the overall experience edge as he’s readying himself for his ninth professional season.
The early word from training camp has Bush running with the ones, but with almost a month before week one in Detroit, there’s plenty of time for a change.
Who will start next to Eddie Jackson at safety in the first game?
I’ll give my take after checking in with my WCG teammates.
Aaron Leming: I feel like I’ve either been way too out of touch this off-season or I’m taking crazy pills, but Tashaun Gipson is clearly the better of the two safeties. Not only has he started a career’s worth more games than Bush, he’s better in coverage and has produced everywhere he has ever been. I know the Bears are higher on Bush than seemingly anyone else, but in a ‘fair fight.’ this one shouldn’t be that close. Bush is a serviceable backup and spot starter when he’s not asked to do too much, but Gipson is still a much better player with more ability in coverage and as a playmaker. If Gipson doesn’t start alongside Jackson Week 1, I’d be shocked. Maybe Bush has been making big strides in practice the last year or so, but I just don’t see any realm where he’s a better player than Gipson.
Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter: I’d expect both Tashaun Gipson and Deon Bush to see considerable playing time this year. Gipson, my front-runner for this position, is the perfect player to pair with Eddie Jackson in the secondary. I feel Gipson’s experience and high caliber of play will trump the mindset of growth from Deon Bush. I can see Bush taking snaps as a “heavy” nickel though.
Ken Mitchell: Tashaun Gipson is the starter with Deon Bush playing every now and again.
Jacob Infante: It should be Tashaun Gipson. Advanced metrics show he was quietly one of the most reliable safeties in the league in 2019, and the tape shows he should fit well in Chuck Pagano’s scheme. Deon Bush should certainly play a role in Chicago’s defense, but Gipson is the better defender and would be the smarter choice to put in the starting lineup.
Robert Zeglinski: The Bears have a similar situation at safety to their cornerback equation. Deon Bush is also a nice depth piece who contributes on special teams occasionally, but that’s all he is: A nice depth piece, and an occasional special teams contributor. Tashaun Gipson is more complementary of Eddie Jackson’s skills, and the more talented player overall. It’s his job to lose.
WhiskeyRanger: Most likely Gipson. Assuming his back issues are behind him, he looks to be the best fit opposite Eddie.
Robert Schmitz: Tashaun Gipson. I like Deon Bush, but Gipson is an established NFL safety that, according to both tape and advanced statistics, plays at a high level and should compliment Eddie Jackson well. I won’t be surprised to see Bush on the field in a few 3-safety looks (Dime package variations) Pagano may use, but assuming neither starter gets injured I expect Gipson, clearly the better player, to play next to Jackson all year long.
Sam Householder: Tashaun Gipson. He has been around, played at a high level and compliments Eddie Jackson well. I don’t think he signed with Chicago to be a back up. Deon Bush is fine in spot duty and could probably be a replacement level starter, but this is two offseasons in a row that Ryan Pace brought in a veteran at safety. If he thought Bush was above average there would be different competition.
Jack Salo: Tashaun Gipson will start at safety. Deon Bush is a great backup, and he’s versatile, but his value is established at this point.
Bill Zimmerman: I really don’t see how Gipson isn’t starting week one unless he’s hurt or his skills have really eroded. He is simply a better safety than Bush. I think Bush is a really nice 3rd safety to have on a roster and he won’t ruin a defense if he’s out there for significant snaps, but Bush isn’t a guy who should be starting regularly on any NFL defense, especially one with elite aspirations. We’ve been hearing a lot about how the coaches love Bush and he’s been improving the last couple of seasons, but it hasn’t shown on Sundays. Bush has a tough backstory and is an easy guy to cheer for, but I think this will be Gipson’s job.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: Gipson has proven to be the better player during their careers, and like my colleagues have said, it shows on the tape in in the analytics. Gipson may not be an old school, thumping strong safety, but in an era where half the league passes 60% of the time, where only two teams ran more than they passed in 2019, and the Bears spent about 70% of their defensive reps in either nickle or dime, the ability to cover is the most important trait for the “strong” safety.
Who will start next to Eddie Jackson at safety?
This poll is closed