Sure, Sunday Night Football treated us to yet another loss to the Packers in front of a national audience, but it wasn’t without its silver linings. The individual play of a few key players should provide some warmth for Bears fans this December, including, most notably, Jaylon Johnson, who matched up well with Davante Adams.
A quick look at the box score paints a pretty good picture for Adams, who hauled in 10 catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns. But that’s not really the whole story. Adams had a great game, but the bulk of that performance came after some adjustments to the game plan by Green Bay’s head coach, Matt LaFleur. We’ll get into that shortly, but let’s start from the top.
Every time Adams was lined up wide, Johnson was lined up in front of him, which was problematic for the Packers in the first quarter on Sunday night. Davante Adams had six routes in which he was lined up wide in the first quarter and zero targets from Aaron Rodgers. Johnson was all over Adams, forcing Rodgers to look to others for help moving the ball down the field against a decimated Chicago defense.
The Packers were able to create better matchups for Davante Adams by moving him into the slot.
Adams caught just 2 of 5 targets for 19 yards when Jaylon Johnson was the nearest defender. Adams caught all 8 of his targets vs other defenders for 102 yards.#CHIvsGB | #GoPackGo pic.twitter.com/9C3xzBLjbK
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 13, 2021
When Jaylon Johnson was on Davante Adams, the All-Pro receiver was targeted five times and caught two of those five targets for 19 yards and a touchdown. Johnson was able to deny Adams here on a route down the sideline as the Packers trailed the Bears with just over three minutes to play in the first half.
Former Central Grizzlies Jaylon Johnson covering the best receiver in the NFL, former @FresnoStateFB Davante Adams.
— PAGMETER (@PAGMETER) December 13, 2021
The issue for Johnson and the Bears was when Adams was working in the slot, and Johnson wasn’t lined up with him. Adams torched the Bears for 102 yards on eight catches while working against other defenders in the slot. We saw that on the 38-yard score near the end of the first half when Adams was in the slot working against Xavier Crawford, and he torched Crawford to shave the Chicago lead from 24-14 to 24-21.
After the game, Johnson admitted that he needs to work on concepts like run fits and zone drops so that he can stick with receivers like Davante Adams when teams shift them into the slot to get away from Johnson on the outside, but Adams’ performance was hardly on him.
Jaylon Johnson says he needs to learn more about run fits and certain zone drops so he can follow a receiver like Davante Adams into the slot when they line him up there. He challenged himself to get better there so he can be true shutdown corner. #Bears
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) December 13, 2021
Honestly, this touchdown late in the game where Davante Adams torched Jaylon Johnson with a deadly stutter-step move at the goal line was the only bad play for 33 in white all night.
Davante Adams absolutely torched Jaylon Johnson https://t.co/VuTz0fQMPz
— 🧀🧀🧀 (@HailRodgers12_) December 13, 2021
The real issue here came when Matt LaFleur out-coached Matt Nagy. LaFleur saw that Johnson had his way with Davante Adams early in the game, and he made the adjustment to move him around, knowing that Johnson wouldn’t be trailing him into the slot. LaFleur called 49 percent of Adams’ remaining routes out of the slot, and Adams caught all eight targets that came his way for over 100 yards and a score because of that.
The Davante Adams-Jaylon Johnson matchup was really good.
And we saw some adjustments from GB vs. man-coverage. Slot reps for Adams + play-action.
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) December 13, 2021
You might be shocked to hear this, but there was no answer from Matt Nagy on that front. The adjustments stayed the course, and Adams went on to cook the Bears makeshift secondary anytime he was away from Jaylon Johnson.
Johnson credited LaFleur and the Packers for making the adjustments they did in the postgame, and he sure sounded like a guy envious of what the Packers coaching staff can do to put their players in the best position to win ballgames.
— Bryan Perez (@BryanPerezNFL) December 13, 2021
Johnson’s performance against Davante Adams was promising, and once he figures out some of the intricacies of playing in the slot and can trail the Davante Adams’ of the world, he’ll be on his way to being an actual shutdown corner. The future is bright for this kid, but it doesn’t get any easier next week with a Monday Night Football assignment in the form of Justin Jefferson.