The Chicago Bears saw their defense come alive in the second game of the season.
The Bears handed the Cincinnati Bengals a 20-17 loss, and they did it with little offensive output, notching four consecutive turnovers on ‘D’, one of which resulted in a pick-six for stud linebacker Roquan Smith.
Bears’ second-year cornerback Jaylon Johnson also contributed in a big way, finishing with two tackles and a team-high four passes defensed. When speaking with the media after the win, however, the talented young corner went all in on a few calls made by the officials that he says he didn’t understand.
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Jaylon Johnson Calls Out Officiating
About midway through the first quarter against Cincinnati, the Bears forced an incomplete pass from Joe Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase on third-and-5. After the play, veteran safety Tashaun Gipson stood over Chase, who was still on the turf, and clapped in a pronounced fashion. Gipson was flagged for taunting, and the Bengals were given a new set of downs.
To be fair, Bengals safety Vonn Bell was flagged on Cincinnati’s next defensive series for jawing at quarterback Andy Dalton:
When he was asked what he made of the taunting calls after the game, Johnson was blunt in his assessment. “I mean, I’m gonna say it’s BS,” Johnson said on September 19.
“At the end of the day, nobody did anything excessive. Nobody did anything that caught anybody’s eye. At the end of the day, that’s their calls. We’ve gotta live with it, respect it. But I mean, for us, we’re gonna keep bringing the same energy out there. … But we’ve gotta celebrate with ourselves. We can’t get anywhere close to the offense or anything like that. Just celebrate within ourselves and keep bringing the juice.”
Johnson was asked a follow-up question about whether or not he found it difficult to keep his emotions in check after making a huge play on defense, and he said this:
“They ain’t telling us to control our emotions, just where we direct the emotions. We can’t direct it onto them, just within ourselves or with our teammates, but never directly towards them.”
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Johnson Has Been Incredible Early On in 2021
A second-round pick for the Bears out of Utah in 2020, Johnson had a solid rookie season. He played in 13 games, allowing 41 catches on 71 targets while also notching 44 tackles (one for loss) and 15 passes defensed. A shoulder injury cut his 2020 campaign short, so he still needs to show he can stay healthy for a full season (particularly considering he also had a shoulder issue that required surgery after college).
Johnson also has the kind of mindset you want in a young cornerback: He has both a short memory and a killer instinct.
“He’s growing every day as a leader in that room,” Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai said about Johnson on September 8. “He’s a younger player, but he’s approaching the game and his daily business every day in the right mindset, and I think people see that. His peers see that, the older guys see that, the other guys in that room that are leaders in the room see that. He’s trying to carve out his own niche to be a leader in that room and he’s doing that.”