Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson took a minute to contemplate the query: Does he consider he has had a Professional Bowl-level season in 2022?
As a beginning cornerback with zero interceptions on a 3-10 crew with a protection that ranks thirty first in passing yards allowed per play, twentieth in complete yards and tied for twelfth in takeaways, Johnson doesn’t have a momentum-surging marketing campaign robust sufficient to solicit an invitation to Las Vegas for the newfangled Professional Bowl week in February.
However the question wasn’t with out benefit. On Sunday, after the Green Bay Packers beat the Bears 28-19 at Soldier Area, Aaron Rodgers labeled Johnson “a premier participant,” echoing reward he had given to the third-year cornerback within the week main as much as the sport. That’s a major and honest endorsement from a four-time MVP who now has confronted Johnson six occasions.
“I might simply say it’s affirmation of what I consider in myself,” Johnson mentioned. “(Having) any individual else being a believer in that, I really feel like that’s not one thing will get thrown round calmly from him.”
Johnson believes he has earned Rodgers’ respect ever since he was a rookie, willingly attacking his battles in 2020 and 2021 towards All-Professional receiver Davante Adams and enjoying with the form of consistency and aggressiveness in protection that has pressured the Packers offense to regulate to him.
However what concerning the Professional Bowl? Does Johnson consider he delivered that form of efficiency?
“No,” he mentioned, “simply in the truth that I really feel just like the Professional Bowl comes from reputation. And I really feel like reputation comes from making spotlight performs. I wouldn’t really feel like I’ve had sufficient spotlight performs to have the ability to say, ‘I’m a Professional Bowl-caliber participant’ or ‘I deserve (to be in) the Professional Bowl.’ Do I feel I’m a Professional Bowl-caliber participant? Hell, yeah. However I really feel like that comes with the picks.”
In three seasons, Johnson solely has one interception, in Week 2 of final season when he stole a Joe Burrow go to Tee Higginsin the fourth quarter of a 20-17 victory towards the Cincinnati Bengals.
This season he has been credited with 4 passes defensed in 10 begins.
Whereas opposing quarterbacks have been much more prepared to problem the Bears’ others cornerbacks, Johnson nonetheless should climb a staircase to raise from strong to stud.
Of the Professional Bowl-caliber cornerbacks within the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks’ Tariq Woolen is tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions. The Packers’ Jaire Alexander has 5. And Dallas Cowboys star Trevon Diggs, taken one decide after Johnson within the 2020 draft, stays one of many league’s most harmful defensive backs, now as much as 17 interceptions in three seasons.
Others who determine to benefit consideration for a Professional Bowl invitation are the Philadelphia Eagles’ Darius Slay and James Bradberry, San Francisco’s 49ers’ Charvarius Ward and Minnesota’s Vikings’ Patrick Peterson.
Apart from Alexander, all these gamers are on groups at present within the NFC playoff image.
Bears coach Matt Eberflus emphasised that extra statistical manufacturing — interceptions, deflections, tackles — is required from Johnson to fortify any Professional Bowl candidacy. Plus, the Bears’ ongoing struggles and 10 losses don’t assist.
“If in case you have a prime unit, then your title begins to get tossed in there extra as a person,” Eberflus mentioned. “I consider that to be true — that you just get extra recognition when your unit performs very well.”
Past statistics, although, Johnson finds further methods to measure his play. An instance? “The quote from Aaron Rodgers,” he mentioned. “I take delight in stuff like that. I play the sport with numerous delight and respect. Getting interceptions isn’t the one strategy to influence the sport, isn’t the one strategy to get respect, isn’t the one strategy to, as he mentioned, be a premier participant.
“Your friends validate you. Not the media. Not the surface folks trying in. I really feel like on the finish of the day, (opponents) respect me coming into that recreation they usually respect me leaving that recreation primarily based on what I placed on movie and primarily based on my talents.”
Johnson is spending his bye week again dwelling in Fresno, Calif., reconnecting together with his 3-year-old daughter, Zaveah, and different family members and principally attempting to get a uncommon dose of December decompression — and to unplug from the soccer grind.
“The best way I have a look at it’s I can’t lose on the bye week,” Johnson quipped Monday. “Simply go 1-0 this week. So I’m pleased about that. I’m pleased about profitable one thing — with the ability to return dwelling, being off, stress-free, simply gaining an edge mentally. … After which after I’m again, I’m again to enterprise.”
The enterprise for Johnson and the Bears gained’t be straightforward after the week off. They end the 2022 portion of their schedule with two difficult dwelling video games towards Tremendous Bowl contenders.
First up in Week 15: a date with MVP candidate Jalen Hurts and the Eagles, who will carry their high-powered offense and a receiving corps led by A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith to Soldier Area.
Then on Christmas Eve, Buffalo Payments quarterback Josh Allen and receiver Stefon Diggs will cease in Chicago, actually in a cutthroat frame of mind as they proceed pursuing a playoff bye.
These are two fairly tough assessments.
“I can solely take one after the other,” Johnson mentioned. “I don’t wish to say I circle these video games. However I simply sit up for these matchups. A.J. Brown, Devonta Smith, Diggs, Gabe Davis (of the Payments). It’s these premier matchup guys. Like I’ve mentioned from day one since I acquired on this constructing, that’s one thing I need.”