LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Eddie Jackson was asleep when his phone lit up late Thursday night with a text from Jaquan Brisker. The second-year safety wanted to inform his backend mate and mentor of general manager Ryan Poles' latest move: signing veteran edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue.
"It's up! It's up!," Jackson responded to Brisker.
"Just to have that pressure up front, man, it helps us a lot in the back end," Jackson said Friday. "We get to capitalize off of that as well."
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The Bears' first-team defense has been flying around since the minute camp started, led by a Jackson, Brisker, and a secondary that promises to be the strength of the 2023 Bears' defense.
On Wednesday, the Bears' defense dominated the offense from the jump. It was a hard-nosed ass-kicking that had Jackson, Brisker, and the defense jawing for long stretches of the two-hour-and-twenty-minute practice.
Jackson and the Bears believe this year's defense has the ingredients to be elite. The only thing missing was an edge rusher capable of generating consistent pressure on a down-by-down basis. He walked through the door Friday.
"It's just getting scarier and scarier," Jackson said Friday. "You know, you're just adding more talent and more talent. When that starts to mesh together, it's, I mean, everyone in here has seen what's going to happen. When you've got a lot of large group of talented players and people that's actually locked in and really love football, that's just more fuel to the fire. We feel like, 'OK, we just keep taking it up a notch.' Now we done added him. It's like, 'Oh man, it's up,' like this thing is headed in the right direction.
"I hate to sound like a broken record every year saying the same thing, but man, listen like this is a different feeling right now. It's like, it's you feel the coaching shift. Like I said, man, it's a great feeling. We're high energy, we're flying around. We're ready for this thing to head in a different direction."
Ngakoue recorded 9.5 sacks for the Indianapolis Colts last season. Bears edge rushers combined for 6.5. Brisker led the team with four.
The Bears' secondary, as good as it might be, needs help from the front four. If the front four can't create pressure, the Bears' secondary will eventually crack.
They desperately need a guy who can put the opposing offense behind the chains and put a stake in their heart on third down.
Since 2016, Ngakoue has 65 sacks. That trails only a who's who of elite defenders -- Aaron Donald, T.J. Watt, Myles Garrett, Chandler Jones, Cameron Jordan, and Khalil Mack -- during that timespan.
Jackson feels a different, locked-in energy from the defense this season. Brisker and second-year cornerback Kyler Gordon have elevated their play, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds gives the Bears a kind of trump card in the middle, and now, here comes Ngakoue.
“It just more juice," Jackson said. "We just keep adding talent. We’re just going out there competing. We got this motto: ‘All we need is all we got. All we got is all we need.’ Just keep adding talent. Just continue to raise the competition level.”
Jackson's belief in the potential of the 2023 defense is soaring. The veteran safety has big expectations for his unit and wishes a certain nemesis was still in Green Bay to face a reloaded Bears defense.
"I really do wish he was back on the Packers," Jackson said of Aaron Rodgers. "Ay, we going to take it how it comes, man. I really do wish cause -- wooo! -- this year, it's going to be scary, man. It's going to be scary."