It is typical for Chicago Bears fans to have concerns about their team going into the start of the season. Is this group good enough to make the playoffs? Some say yes. Others say no. An honest assessment says they are, but they would need a considerable amount of good fortune. Not to mention several of their younger players to take a big step forward in 2021. Does longtime veteran Tashaun Gipson envision that happening for anybody?

Without question. The veteran safety enters his second season with the Bears. In that time, he’s gotten to know all of his teammates well. During his first press conference in weeks, he spoke about his admiration for guys like Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks. However, when he was asked about his impressions of second-year cornerback Jaylon Johnson? Gipson cracked a sly grin.

His words that followed were nothing short of glowing.

It would be one thing for Gipson to just say that Johnson is going to make a big jump this season. For him to say the kid will end up a top 5 corner with the ceiling of Jalen Ramsey? That is insanely high praise. The former 2nd round pick had a strong rookie season for the Bears, finishing with 15 pass deflections including two that resulted in interceptions. However, enthusiasm for him became a little more tepid towards the end of the year as he struggled in a few games before suffering a shoulder injury.

This is one reason fans are so concerned about the cornerback position in general. Without Kyle Fuller, the group is exceedingly young and lacking proven bodies. Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelley struggled in the preseason. Johnson looked fine but people can’t be certain how good he’ll be or if he can stay healthy. Gipson doesn’t seem bothered by that. They’ll all see soon enough.

Tashaun Gipson has seen Johnson put in the work

He’s witnessed all the little things the cornerback is doing away from the cameras. Working his body into supreme shape, refining his technique in every practice, and relentlessly studying film. Johnson himself scoffed when asked how he can improve on his solid rookie season. He openly asked what about 2020 the media considered good? That speaks to the type of player he is. The kid holds himself to an incredibly high standard. What he did as a rookie wasn’t good enough. Not even close.

Perhaps that is why Tashaun Gipson seems so confident. He understands how driven Johnson is to be great. He’s had a chance to play with a lot of cornerbacks who were like that. Not just Ramsey in Jacksonville but also Joe Haden in Cleveland. He’s seen what the truly great ones look like. So his praise of Johnson feels like it carries more weight than it might from other players.

If he’s right? The future of the Bears defense is bright.

They already have one emerging star at inside linebacker with Roquan Smith. If Johnson takes a similar leap at cornerback, a far more valuable position? Then they have the building blocks necessary to keep this defense strong for years to come. Couple that with the arrival of a potential franchise quarterback in Justin Fields and it feels like true contention might be possible not too far in the future. Here is hoping Gipson is right.

SOURCE© Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Educated to be a writer at the prestigious Columbia College in Chicago, Erik has spent the past 10 years covering the Bears.