Bears Starter Makes Candid Admission About HC Matt Eberflus

Jaylon Johnson

Getty Jaylon Johnson #33 and Eddie Jackson #4 of the Chicago Bears celebrate after a play.

It took Chicago Bears starting cornerback Jaylon Johnson a while to get used to the H.I.T.S. principle.

The acronym represents first-year head coach Matt Eberflus’ philosophy for his football team, and it stands for: “Hustle, Intensity, Takeaways and (playing) Situationally smart” football.

It’s been a small sample size, but through two preseason games, the Bears, particularly on defense, have shown a great deal of hustle — and they’ve played situationally smart for the most part, too. They have forced three turnovers and tallied 7.0 sacks so far in the preseason, and the way defenders are flying to the ball is noticeable.

When speaking with the media after practice on August 23, Johnson got admirably candid about the adjustments it took to get used to the new philosophy that was being instilled by Eberflus and new defensive coordinator Alan Williams.

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Johnson on HITS Principle: ‘I Didn’t Believe in It’

“I didn’t believe in it right away,” Johnson admitted when he was asked about the H.I.T.S. principle. “It was just something that I wasn’t familiar with, something I wasn’t used to doing, so naturally there’s going to be some back-and-forth.”

Now? He says he has seen proof that Eberflus’ philosophy works and believes in it “100%.”

“Really coming in, being in it, going through it during the spring, and now, like I said, it’s becoming second nature. It is what it is. It’s the standard, and as a leader I have to push myself to push other guys, to uphold that standard. I’m definitely used to it now. It’s natural. It’s what the expectation is.”

The 23-year-old cornerback also says he’s “more in shape” now than he was last season with “all the running that we’re doing,” and elaborated on the defense’s newfound habit of running to the ball on every play.

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Johnson Shares New Team Commandment

When discussing the emphasis Eberflus and company have put on defenders running to the ball on each and every play, Johnson elicited laughs from media present when he shared one of the team’s new mantras.

“Thou who runneth to the ball, good things shall happen,” the corner said with a chuckle.

“If you don’t run to the ball, not too many good things are going to happen at the end of the day,” Johnson added. “There’s no really selling anything. You’re going to buy into it or you’re not. And I felt like at the end of the day, if you don’t buy into it, you’re not going to play, so I mean I felt like it wasn’t too much to sell.”

The third-year cornerback also revealed he reached out to rookie corner Kyler Gordon shortly after the Bears drafted him in the second round this year.

“I reached out to him as soon as they drafted him,” Johnson said about Gordon, noting he has been mentoring the rookie on the regular. “I’m just giving him little tips each and every day, each and every situation I see that he can get better at.”

It may have taken a little time, but it’s clear Johnson has the right attitude to become one of the team’s strongest leaders.

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