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Bears Secondary Trying to Silence the Critics

After a disaster in Week 1 against the Rams, the Bears secondary is trying to rally against Cincinnati and has heard plenty of criticism from outside Halas Hall if not within.

Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson finally gets to play before his home crowd for the first time as a pro on Sunday, yet he wants to "shut people up."

He's not talking so much the fans at Soldier Field who will be there for the home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, but the critics of this Bears defense following last week's 34-14 loss at Los Angeles.

It's not a case where Johnson wants to just lash out at the critics. Rather, he's upset the entire defense is taking heat when it was the secondary who deserved it.

And, well, yeah, he wants to shut up the critics but not necessarily the ones who will be at Soldier Field.

"I feel we are real hungry for an opportunity, just to get back, just to kind of shut people up in a sense because I feel like people get it confused," Johnson said. "That we have playmakers, that we have guys that have played at a high level for a very long time and they (critical fans and media) let one opportunity, one situation that happened cloud their judgment or talk in a certain way.

"So just for us, it's just about being short-minded and just coming back and bouncing back."

Keep the front line and linebackers out of this, though.

"I'm not going to say the defense," Johnson said. "I'm going to say the secondary. From the jump, that's what everybody has been talking about. What is the secondary going to be like?

"For me, what does Jaylon want to bring to the table? Is he ready to be CB1? What is Eddie going to do? What is Gip going to do? Just all of these things you hear in the media, just what goes on, who talks about what. It's just another opportunity to get better."

The Bears allowed a 156.1 passer rating to quarterback Matthew Stafford, which is just shy of being perfect. It's the highest passer rating in the NFL after Week 1. He had two TD passes and they blew the coverage on both. They had a few more missed coverages which resulted in big gains, as well.

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It's not like they've been strangers before to being torched by Stafford. The worst three games in terms of passing yardage given up by the Bears secondary in the last two seasons all came against Stafford.

No one is leaning on that crutch, though.

"If you ask us, if you ask the guys who made those mental lapses what you're supposed to do, they'll answer the question 10 times out of 10," Johnson said. "But in that moment, there's a lot going on. Guys are trying to read certain things. Guys have eyes in a certain spot.

"Everybody wants to make a play, sometimes you get caught in the wrong spot. There's nothing really you can do outside of just take advantage and do better the next play. There's nothing too much to look at, to talk about. Everybody knew the mistake when we came to the sideline, but it's too late."

Johnson probably came out of it looking like less the victim of a mental mistake than other players in the secondary. Safeties Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gipson, in particular, had gaffes. Both failed to touch down fallen Van Jefferson and he got up and ran in 15 yards for a touchdown.

Cornerback Kindle Vildor said the secondary should be resilient rather than down, because the errors committed were easily correctable.

"The stuff that we got beat on, it wasn't like, you know what I mean, 'oh this person was just better,' or stuff like that," he said. "It was just little small fundamental things that we just didn't make sure we took care of."

The film sessions and practice pointed them toward getting it correct. And maybe the criticism light a fire.

"We came together as a unit, we understood what happened and everything," Vildor said. "Like I said, this week in practice we focused on the little things and we're just ready to go out there and compete."

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