Thursday, July 11, 2024

Jaylon Johnson Makes Surprising Revelation About Matt Eberflus

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On the surface, there didn’t seem to be anything wrong between Jaylon Johnson and the new Chicago Bears coaching staff when they arrived in 2022. One would think he’d be happy. Matt Eberflus was a defensive guy. He would cater the team vision to that mentality. He’d also have the expertise to help Johnson reach his full potential. As it turns out, that was far from the truth, at least in the beginning. A new in-depth article on Johnson by Dan Pompei of The Athletic revealed there were some hard feelings between the cornerback and his head coach.

It stemmed from the 2022 off-season when the Bears demoted Johnson to the second-team defense because they felt he wasn’t following their desires on how to play the new defensive scheme. The cornerback, always known for his outspoken personality, didn’t like that. Though he quickly regained the starting job, those feelings lingered the entire season. Getting injured and missing six games didn’t help. Going into 2023, he had two choices. Continue letting those emotions fester, or focus on doing his job.

In early 2022, the Bears hired a new general manager and head coach. Johnson, a second-round pick in 2020, didn’t show up for voluntary offseason workouts. When mandatory workouts began, he had been demoted to second string. He regained his starting spot quickly, but some hard feelings lingered, especially while Johnson acclimated to coach Matt Eberflus’ push for more intensity.

Since his rookie training camp, Johnson has not been shy about questioning or challenging authority, and that has not changed over time.

“Clearly, I was one of the top guys on the team, so with that should have come a sense of respect,” Johnson says. “I shouldn’t have had to prove myself in everything. Don’t play with me. We’re grown men. I didn’t feel valued from the coaching staff.”

Jaylon Johnson worked things out with Eberflus.

To the coach’s credit, he didn’t let the corner’s combative personality disrupt team morale. He maintained a steady presence, kept up with the same message, and didn’t issue punishments. Johnson got the hint. He came into last season focused and ready to embrace the scheme. Despite missing three games, he had four interceptions, ten passes defended, a forced fumble, and a pick-six. This earned him his first Pro Bowl and a lucrative four-year extension to stay in Chicago.

Previous Bears head coaches might’ve misinterpreted Jaylon Johnson as a rebel who needed to be put in his place. That is often how locker room fractures develop. Eberflus stayed patient with the young cornerback, understanding he was frustrated. Convincing such players to embrace a team philosophy can be challenging. Straight punishment never works. A message must be sent without going over the line. That is what early demotion did. Johnson may have hated it, but he eventually came around to understanding his place.

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4 COMMENTS

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jack60616
jack60616
Jun 4, 2024 9:57 am

Being a leader of a team …other players feed off of your play. If J.J intensity is low…other players will drop theirs as well. Some of the greats are the hardest workers on their teams . They lead by example.

robmac
robmac
Jun 4, 2024 7:53 am

Great player, big ego, big mouth. Eberflus’ system is what makes or breaks this defense, not this guy’s big mouth.

Dr. Steven Sallie
Dr. Steven Sallie
Jun 4, 2024 7:05 am

What surprise? They both enjoy watching films together?

Byron
Byron
Jun 4, 2024 6:16 am

The head coach put in his rules and philosophy’s and either you followed them or you weren’t going to play regardless of who you are, Thats a Head Coach.

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