Hiring a new general manager, head coach, offensive and defensive play callers, and other newbies around Halas Hall kick-started an offseason of change for the Chicago Bears. But new names, fresh faces, and different perspectives can’t be the only things that change if the Bears are to dig out from the messes left behind by the previous regime.
With that in mind, I found it incredibly interesting that cornerback Jaylon Johnson — who is one of the handful of returning starters from last year’s team — opened a window into a new-look Halas Hall:
Wow! It sure seems like Johnson has come a long way from being the guy causing a stink on social media after being fined for being a few minutes late for a team meeting. But maybe this is part of Johnson’s growing process. After all, there are so many cases where folks who push back against structure and discipline are the ones who thrive in situations where structure and discipline are foundational pillars. Maybe that last sentence is a little bit of me speaking on something I find relatable. But I know I’m not alone in being under that umbrella.
When things were going well in 2018, there was much made about the Bears’ changing culture. And, for that moment, it was true. Part of that team’s surge from the cellar to the penthouse of the NFC North standings was rooted in culture change. The breath of fresh air Matt Nagy brought with him as a first-year head coach was valuable. But fast forward to 2021, and the culture Nagy built had deteriorated. Everything has a shelf life. If you’re not keeping it fresh, it can lead to a big stink. And there was plenty of stink last year.
Ultimately, this has left Matt Eberflus to fight for necessary culture change upon arrival. But seeing the early buy-in from a player such as Johnson is a good sign. Getting veteran leadership can do wonders for a first-year head coach. Johnson could be seen as a leader to younger players in the secondary and elsewhere in the locker room. So his acknowledging of change for the better feels like an important starting point for the new regime.
In any case, the most important thing from Johnson is that things *ARE* changing at Halas Hall. It isn’t the wide-ranging change we might’ve been wanting, but that was never happening in one fell swoop. Instead, we’re seeing some smaller things, such as newfound accountability — which is something we were all fighting to see change lat year. It might not look like much, but even the greatest rebuild stories have humble beginnings. Gotta start somewhere, right?