The Chicago Bears wanted to ease Jaylon Johnson in due to not having any preseason games. Circumstances prevented that from happening and he is starting right from the start of the season.
The Chicago Bears have trouble trying to ease in their rookies. For example, when they drafted quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, they wanted him to sit for the season and learn before he takes the helm. That didn’t happen because the starter, Mike Glennon, was so horrible head coach John Fox had to throw the rookie into the fire.
The Bears had a similar plan for cornerback Jaylon Johnson. They weren’t going to have him sit the entire season, but someone else, Artie Burns, would start the season. He’d be there until Johnson showed he was ready to take over. Without any preseason games, the Bears wanted to have Johnson experience the difference in speed and intensity of a professional game as opposed to college.
Again, the plan didn’t work. Burns went down with a torn ACL and won’t play one game with the Bears. Some analysts thought the Bears would move nickel cornerback Buster Skrine to the outside. The Bears decided against that and ultimately put Johnson as the starter on the outside, opposite of Pro Bowl and All-Pro cornerback Kyle Fuller.
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We’ll see how ready Johnson is for primetime. Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions will go after him early and often to see how he adjusts. As mentioned, there were no preseason games for Johnson to get rid of the jitters and just play ball. Yes, there is the nervousness of playing in your first official game, but his first official game is also his first professional game as well.
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Stafford is a very good quarterback. He has one career 5,000+ yards passing season and fell 33 yards short of that mark another time. As it is, he has seven seasons out of 11 seasons in which he threw for over 4,000 yards. As a comparison, the Chicago Bears are still looking for their first 4,000-yard season from their quarterback.
Stafford was on his way to another 5,000-yard season in 2019 before an injury cut his season short. In eight games, he had 2,499 yards. He’s healthy now and likely salivating looking at a rookie at cornerback. The Lions have Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, two good receivers, so Johnson needs to be ready.
The rookie feels more than ready
Johnson has the confidence you’d expect from a cornerback. He feels he can make every play and if he gets burned he just forgets about it and goes onto the next play. He feels confident that he’s ready to start his career on the right foot. In fact, he says he’s more than ready.
I’m more than ready in my head. I’ve been preparing my whole life for this. I’m not lacking any confidence.
In terms of Stafford picking on him, Johnson expects it. He won’t back down, however.
I would expect every quarterback to go after the rookie; that’s what I would do if I was a quarterback. For me, it’s just about preparing myself to be able to make plays in those positions, and if I give up plays, just keep a strong mindset to just keep pushing.
This is exactly what you want to hear from your cornerback. Johnson has the tools to be a very good cornerback. Many had him as a top-three cornerback but offseason shoulder surgery scared teams away. He fell to the second round as the 50th overall pick.
It might be earlier than what the Bears wanted but Johnson feels he is right where he’s supposed to be. He’s ready to show his fans and the doubters that he is NFL-ready.