Yo! Matt Eberflus Had Cornerback Jaylon Johnson Running With the 2nd Team Defense

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Yo! Matt Eberflus Had Cornerback Jaylon Johnson Running With the 2nd Team Defense

Chicago Bears

I don’t know if there is a backstory, a reason, or something else inspiring new Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus to put Jaylon Johnson with the second-team defense during Tuesday’s OTA practice … But it certainly has my attention:

For whatever it is worth, Eberflus tries to pump the brakes by asking folks not to read into Johnson’s work with the second unit. But even that came with the caveats of not reading “too much” into it “right now.” How much reading into it counts as too much? And when does the right now provision expire? Can I read too much into it later? I don’t want to fall too far down the rabbit hole in the final full week of May. However, I do want to note that it exists.

And perhaps with good reason.

Johnson was a notable absent player during earlier OTA practices. To reiterate, these practices aren’t mandatory. But a third-year player opting out probably didn’t sit well with a first-year head coach. Especially a defensive-leaning coach trying to install new schemes and terminology. Not to mention Eberflus is trying to bring in a whole new mojo after the previous regime was sent packing earlier in the offseason. Having a top returning player not show up might feel like an insult to a new coach who wants all hands on deck.

In other words, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Eberflus using an assignment with the second unit to send a message to an established starting cornerback.

And it’s not as if Johnson couldn’t use the work. Because not only are we talking about a player in a new system who might need to be boning up on the finer things in a new defense. We’re also looking at a player who has had fast starts in each of the last two seasons, only to fade down the stretch.

Johnson was PFF’s top-graded cornerback after his first month as a rookie, but finished 84th of 121 qualifying corners. A year later, Johnson put together another hot start before finishing as PFF’s 50th among the 116 qualifiers. This isn’t to say Johnson doesn’t have it, because he has shown enough splash moments to confirm that he does. And he certainly has lockdown CB1 potential and the mindset to go with it. However, it would be nice if he did it with more consistency throughout the entirety of an NFL season.

I’m not saying full attendance during optional practices is some cure-all. And it would be wild to suggest it would lead to Johnson to being steadily good all year. But I wouldn’t put it past coaches using a run with the second team as a motivational tool. Especially since ramping things up from a conditioning perspective provides a timely excuse.

In the end, this isn’t something I want to blow out of proportion. But this serves as a reminder that Eberflus is a new sheriff in town. And he is going about establishing that much in different ways than his predecessor.


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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.