Jaylon Johnson is ready for Year 2. The second-year cornerback for the Chicago Bears had a solid rookie season in 2020. He started 13 games for Chicago, and while his season was cut short by a shoulder injury that forced him to miss three games, he left enough on the field for fans to be excited about his sophomore season.
Johnson earned a 54.9 overall rating from Pro Football Focus last year (60.0 pass rush grade, 56.1 coverage grade). He allowed a 106.7 passer rating when targeted by opposing quarterbacks last season, giving up 14.3 yards per reception. He also missed nine tackles, which isn’t ideal.
A second-round pick for Chicago last year (No. 50 overall) Johnson also showed plenty of flashes when he was on the field. He forced 14 incompletions, leading all rookies, and his 21.2% forced incompletion percentage last season was the best mark by a rookie outside corner since 2006, per PFF. Now heading into his sophomore season, Johnson says he’s ready for anything and anyone — and he has a message for future opponents.
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Johnson: ‘I Look Forward to Going Against Whoever is in Front of Me’
When speaking with the media on August 6, the second-year corner was asked if he was ready for the upcoming season. The Bears have the Miami Dolphins coming to town for the first of their three preseason contests, and Johnson says he’s looking forward to whoever lines up across from him — in that game and beyond.
“I’m ready to go against whoever, and they better be ready to go against me,” Johnson said.
“Honestly, I don’t really care who it is. I mean, I find a good challenge with our receivers, the ARobs (Allen Robinson), the (Darnell) Mooneys. I look forward to going against whoever is in front of me, just worrying about me and getting better.”
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Johnson Benefitting From Working With Bears WR Corps
In addition to Mooney and Robinson, the Bears have added a ton of speed this offseason, including running back Khalil Herbert and wideouts Dazz Newsome, Damiere Byrd and Marquise Goodwin. Johnson says going up against such quick players has helped him rely more heavily on his technique, which is a good thing.
“You can’t just outrun them,” Johnson said about speedy wideouts like Goodwin. “So I rely on my technique, on my physical attributes, getting hands-on, trying to widen them and get them off their spot.”
Johnson will likely stay on the right side, where he played last year, but Bears head coach Matt Nagy hinted earlier this summer that the team may get creative with the versatile cornerback now that veteran Kyle Fuller is gone.
“We’ll probably mess around with it a little bit,” Nagy said on June 15. “I know (defensive coordinator) Sean (Desai), getting these guys back out here, has some ideas of what he wants to do schematically. As you all know, we won’t get into that right now. But I do think it’s a benefit to be able to have guys that play both sides. So for us to be able to have that versatility with these players and Jaylon being able to do that and do different things, I think Sean will do what’s best for really the defense.”
For his part, Johnson says he’s already forgotten everything that happened last season because he’s laser-focused on 2021.
“The game is a whole new game this year,” he said.