LAKE FOREST – Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson caused a stir on social media when he posted to his Instagram account earlier this week, sharing a photo of a letter from head coach Matt Nagy informing him that he had been fined for being late to a meeting.
Johnson shared the photo in his Instagram story with a caption that read “walked in as it turned 8:16 and they tax me like this.”
Johnson said Friday that he never intended to share the letter publicly. He said he meant to send it to only a few select friends. It caused much more of a stir than he ever intended. Johnson deleted the photo from Instagram within hours.
“I messed up,” Johnson said. “I posted it when I didn’t need to. At the end of the day, it is what it is. I’ve got to own up to it. I was late, at the end of the day. If I didn’t want that to happen in the first place, I shouldn’t have been late.”
Johnson was never mad about the fine. He and Nagy had “an awesome conversation” about it, according to Nagy. There seems to have been no love lost on either side.
“He is a great leader for this defense,” Nagy said. “He’s playing his butt off right now. He’s a guy that stays after practice every single day and gets extra work.”
This came days after the Bears asked Johnson to shadow Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams in Sunday’s 24-14 loss. Wherever Adams went, Johnson went, for the most part.
It was a little more nuanced than that, however. Johnson said it was his first time playing a true nickel cornerback position in the NFL. He lined up over Adams when Adams was in the slot, but sometimes would pass him off to another defender once Adams left his zone.
He called that nickel position 110% more complex than simply playing a guy man-to-man.
“That was pretty tough, especially going up against a high-level quarterback and receiver like that,” Johnson said. “Just being able to get more reps at it, I feel like it would allow me to get more comfortable.”
Adams, who led the NFL in receptions going into that game, had just four catches. But the few times he beat Johnson turned out to be some of the game’s biggest plays.
He found an opening on one such play when Johnson passed him off to safety Eddie Jackson. It didn’t help that Jackson missed a tackle. It wound up going for a 41-yard gain and setting up Aaron Rodgers’ game-clinching touchdown.
By Friday, Johnson had wiped the Green Bay game from his mind. The Bears will need him more than ever this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Safety Deon Bush went on injured reserve this week with a quad injury and safety Tashaun Gipson has been ruled out of Sunday’s game with a hip injury. The Bears secondary will be depleted.
Tampa Bay is challenging in a different way than the Packers, too, because Johnson can’t just key in on one receiver like he did with Adams. Receiver Antonio Brown has been ruled out of Sunday’s game, but the Bucs have two other pass catchers in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans who both have more than 400 receiving yards.
“I feel l can really help the defense in being able to scheme different ways,” Johnson said. “Just being able to be versatile in that aspect to just be able to help out the defense.”