Jaylon Johnson has started 28 games for the Chicago Bears over his first two seasons, establishing himself as one of the team’s most promising young players.
With a new coaching staff led by head coach Matt Eberflus that also includes a new defensive coordinator (Alan Williams) and defensive backs coach (James Rowe), what Johnson did under the previous regime no longer matters.
What matters now is how well he fits into the team’s new defensive scheme — and based on Eberflus’ recent comments at organized team activities, Johnson has some work to do.
“Jaylon,” Eberflus said during OTAs on May 17, “is still a work in progress. He’s got some things he’s got to work on just like all the rest of those guys that are second and third year players, they’ve all got to work on stuff. Just keep working and we’ll see where he goes.”
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Eberflus on Johnson: I’ve Got to See Him in Action
The first-year Bears coach noted that while he has seen some impressive things from the 23-year-old corner on film, you can only tell so much by watching tape.
“I want to see him in person,” Eberflus said about Johnson. “I’ve got to see time on task, I’ve got to see the guy cover, I’ve got to see how he takes his angles, you know how he plays on the ball, I’ve got to see all those things before we’re going to start diving into the details of that, coaching him.”
A second-round pick for the Bears in 2020 (50th overall), Johnson had his first career interception in 2021, also registering seven pass breakups, according to PFF. He allowed 41 receptions and six touchdowns on 72 targets, surrendering 13.2 yards per reception.
He’s no longer the new kid on the block, either.
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Eberflus Hypes Rookie Gordon at OTAs
The Bears just bulked up their secondary in a big way during the draft, selecting cornerback Kyler Gordon at No. 39 overall and safety Jaquan Brisker with the 48th pick in Round 2. Gordon and Johnson are expecting to be the team’s starting cornerbacks, and when asked how he’ll get both on the same page, Eberflus threw some hype behind Gordon in particular when giving his response.
“I just think you coach them, they’re coaching those guys, they play the same position,” Eberflus said, adding: “Kyler’s been lighting it up the last two days, I’ll just tell you that. The guy’s got tremendous ball skills. He’s been playing the defense the right way and we’re very impressed with him. I’ll just tell you that. And he’s doing a good job the first two days. We’ll see where it goes. He’s young. He’s got a lot to learn but we’re excited where he his with his ball-hawking skills. No question.”
For his part, Johnson understands that football is a business, and he’ll have to continue to perform on the field if he wants to remain the team’s top corner.
“It’s a complete reset,” Johnson said on May 17. “Everything I’ve done in the past with the other coaches, with the other staff, it really doesn’t mean anything. I mean, the film is not going to lie to you. But at the end of the day, they want me to show them what I can do in person.”
He’s also not threatened by the addition of Gordon and Brisker — he’s excited about it. “Excited just to have some high-level guys come in and be able to contribute,” he said. “They’re ballhawks. They’re ball hungry. That’s definitely a good thing, knowing they’re aggressive.”