Jaylon Johnson to Receive a Tall Test Against the Best
Fate and game conditions combined to keep Bears rookie wide receiver Jaylon Johnson from being tested to the full extent of his abilities to date.
It's about to change considering he'll go up Sunday against Falcons 6-foot-3, 221-pound wide receiver Julio Jones.
"Just being able to match up against arguably one of the best receivers of this generation, I mean, being able to line up against him and then Calvin Ridley is an upcoming star, as well," Johnson said. "They're definitely explosive players and very savvy route runners.
"And they make every route look the same. It's just about having eye discipline and just trying to stay attached."
Eye discipline yes, but he won't be wide-eyed looking at the second-highest paid wide receiver in football. Giving opponents too much respect is not in his makeup.
"No, not since I've gotten to the NFL," Johnson said. "I did as a kid in high school and maybe in college but at the end of the day he bleeds the same way I bleed so I'm just gong to go out there and compete.
"I mean he's the best and I consider myself one of the best so we've just got to match up."
Johnson's confidence in his abilities have been justified to date with 10 tackles and a team-high five pass defenses. Johnson has blended well at right cornerback into a secondary which currently has the best passer rating against in the NFL of 73.1. The Bears led the NFL at this in 2018.
However, in neither game did Johnson face the full extent of the opposition receivers' abilities.
Against Detroit in the opener, wide receiver Kenny Golladay didn't play. Last week Sterling Shepard went out with a toe injury early after two catches for 29 yards and didn't return.
Nevertheless, Johnson performed his duties beyond an acceptable rate. Top receiver Darius Slayton was still available to the Giants and the Bears held him to three catches for 33 yards. Marvin Jones Jr. was limited to four catches for 55 yards.
Johson's production has been the best in the Bears secondary so far, according to Pro Football Focus' grading system. Sportradar, the NFL's official stat partner, has Johnson allowing only 46.2% completions and a 70.7 passer rating against when targeted.
It's all indicating the speed of the game hasn't been too great for a rookie, but he is noticing differences from his days at Utah.
"For me, personally, people are a lot stronger and a lot bigger, but also that people know exactly what they're doing," Johnson said. "This is their profession. So they are a lot more savvy at what they're doing and how to attack you."
The adjustment has been aided by help from some Bears veterans and coaches. Two-time cornerback Kyle Fuller gave him advice when they talked away from teh field.
"I would just say kind of trust the scheme of the defense and the players around you also to be able to put yourself in certain positions and then, if they do attack opposite, you know that you've got people around you that you can trust so just really understanding the scheme of the defense."