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High Need for Cornerback Help

The Bears need someone at two cornerback spots to start so Jaylon Johnson can be used properly instead of making him chase top receivers all over the field.

No single position on the Bears roster in 2021 produced results as poor as cornerback.

Even though quarterbacks struggled greatly to achieve any consistency and combined for an embarrassing 75.5 passer efficiency rating the cornerbacks endured an even worse season.

It's a major reason the new Bears GM needs to be looking to upgrade at this spot with two or even three more quality players in free agency and the draft.

Starting right cornerback Jaylon Johnson might as well have "right" eliminated from his position. He had to line up all over the field, even in the slot. Defensive coordinator Sean Desai matched Johnson up on the best opposing receiver and this is both an honor as well as statement about how far Johnson has come in two year.

It's also a statement about the quality of the starting left cornerback and slot cornerback that Johnson needed to be used this way. The Bears defensive scheme conjured up by Vic Fangio works best with heavy zone emphasis, particularly cover-3, and plenty of disguised coverage. It's difficult to disguise anything or play cover-3 as much as desired when the best cornerback is being moved all over the field.

The ideal situation is for Johnson to remain in his place and the team to upgrade its other cornerbacks.

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The Bears defense had a 103.3 passer rating against this season, last in the NFL. Kindle Vildor had the most plays besides Johnson at 821 total and according to official NFL stat partner Sportradar, he had a 136.1 passer rating against and six touchdown passes allowed. Artie Burns had 254 plays and allowed two TDs, but did produce a relatively high six pass defenses. He also allowed two touchdowns. Rookie Thomas Graham Jr. had a respectable 94.8 passer rating against but got on the field for only 112 plays as he was a practice squad player who allowed a touchdown pass and played in four games.

Backup slot cornerback Xavier Crawford had 139 plays on defense with a 142 passer rating against and 73.3% completions allowed with three touchdown passes.

Slot starter Duke Shelley showed some improvement but missed a big chunk of the season due to injuries and illness with 10 games played. he had a 100.0 passer rating against and 74.4% completions allowed with only three pass defenses.

The only cornerback on the roster who made an interception was Johnson, and he made one. It was the second straight season they had one interception from a cornerback.

The Need: The Bears could use a taller, young and fast cornerback to compete for starting right cornerback, most likely through the draft but this takes developmental time. They must also upgrade in free agency because the backups, with the exception of Graham, show little hope for the future at this position.

Cornerback Report Card


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