Bears Coach Calls Out Defensive Standout for Not Being Physical Enough

Sean Desai

Getty Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai called out CB Jaylon Johnson for his effort.

Jaylon Johnson has been one of the most promising young players on the Chicago Bears defense since his arrival last season, but that doesn’t mean the talented young cornerback doesn’t make the occasional error.

During Chicago’s Week 13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, it looked like the second-year corner had a chance to stop Cards quarterback Kyler Murray before the goal line on what turned into a nine-yard TD scamper. Murray juked him a bit, but he didn’t bite, and it looked like he had a chance to stop the Cardinals QB. Here’s the play:

It was a confusing play live, as it looked like Johnson hesitated in his pursuit of Murray.

“It was just a split-second decision and that was the decision I made,” Johnson said on December 9 about his mindset as the play was happening.

“Things are happening fast and they’re going fast. … In the moment, it’s a split decision, and I didn’t think that I was able to stop him from getting into the end zone. And I feel like if I did, you don’t know what can go on. So honestly for me,
looking back at it, of course I can say yeah, I could have hit him or next time I’m going to hit him, but that’s easy to say moving forward. In the moment, I didn’t think that was the best decision.”

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Bears DC on Johnson: ‘I Thought He Could Have Taken a Shot’

Sean Desai would have liked to have seen Johnson try to hit Murray. “I thought he could have taken a shot,” the Bears defensive coordinator said about the play on December 9, adding: “Would that have resulted in a penalty? Your guess is as good as mine.”

The first-year DC then suggested he’d like to see Johnson be more physical moving forward.

“We have to be OK if a guy is playing full speed and makes a split second decision and it doesn’t go in our favor,” Desai continued. “That’s part of the cost of doing business and I think our guys understand that. They have to make those split second decisions and we want to be physical and when we got a chance to keep anybody out of the end zone, we want to take our shot to keep our guys out of the end zone.”

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Johnson Admitted He Plays QBs Differently Than RBs

Johnson also likely hesitated to hit Murray because of how hard the league has come down on roughing penalties and hits to the quarterback in recent years. He was asked whether his mentality is different when he defends and hits quarterbacks versus running backs, and the second-year CB said this:

“100 percent,” Johnson said when asked if his mentality is different when he’s hitting a running quarterback vs a running back. “I mean, you can see that quarterbacks get hit different than running backs do. Often times, you get a hard hit on a quarterback, it’s a flag. So I mean, just your approach to a quarterback is totally different. You’re not going in to kill a quarterback like you are a running back or a wide receiver, just because of the rules and things like that.”

Desai also noted he thinks Johnson would do things differently if he had a do-over.

“I think Jaylon thinks he probably could have taken a shot there,” Desai added. “And again, it’s easier off the tape when you pause and don’t pause.”

Hopefully, it will be something the talented young corner will learn from moving forward.

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