Seeing Jaylon Johnson run with the second-team defense was jarring. And despite Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus leading the chorus of voices warning people not to look too deeply into the swap, there was still something off about the whole ordeal. Even still … not many (anyone?) think Johnson won’t be CB1 in Chicago this season.
Especially with him getting this type of praise from one of the NFL’s best receivers:
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp said on @dpshow that Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson was one of the best defensive backs he played against this past season.
Kupp said that Johnson challenges you and he doesn’t get the respect or credit that he deserves.
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) June 3, 2022
I don’t think Cooper Kupp is the type to blow smoke for funnies. So when I see commentary that is complimentary of a Bears defender coming from an All-Pro receiver fresh off a record-breaking season and Super Bowl glory, I find it worth sharing. Especially since we’ve seen Johnson perform at a high level for stretches throughout the first two years of his career.
Remember, Johnson was PFF’s highest-graded cornerback after his first month of games as a rookie. And a year later, Johnson put together another strong start to the season. That was good to see, especially after his rookie campaign was cut short due to an injury. Yes, his consistency has left something to be desired. But Johnson has lockdown corner potential and plays with a fearlessness that is necessary to thrive at the position. And we shouldn’t look past those attributes.
As for his time running with the second unit, I wouldn’t say Johnson wasn’t wholly unbothered. But he appears to have shaken it off.
Via NBC Sports Chicago’s Josh Schrock, citing a recent appearance from Johnson on the Jim Rome Show:
“I don’t see it as a problem. I don’t want to say it didn’t bother me. But at the end of the day, it’s not anything I’m going to give too much energy to. I feel like it’s one of those things where I know what I can do. And if I’m not mistaken, they know what I can do as well.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of my ability. They have their reasons for why they do what they do. They are the coaches of the team. I’m not going to challenge that. At the end of the day, I know who I am right now. I know where I’m building to. Right now, I’m just keeping the main thing the main thing. Just trying to get better with the reps that I get and just moving forward from there. I don’t see it as a problem.”
It shouldn’t take long for Johnson to showcase what he can do to the new coaches. And with another round of OTAs coming up on Monday, I reckon we’ll see him back in a familiar spot in the secondary.