Bears DB Season Preview: Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Eddie Jackson, more
|Friday, July 22, 2022, 8:38 AM- -|
We have reached the final position in our season preview series as we move to the secondary. This was the one area on the Bears defense that needed the most addressing after losing Kyle Fuller last season. Once that happened, the Bears did what they could to plug in guys to help out, but the result was not pretty.
In their defense, outside of Robert Quinn, the Bears didn't have their typical pass rush, and when you can't pressure a QB, it leaves the secondary vulnerable. That could be especially crucial this season as the Bears will rely on several rookies or young players to pick up the slack as they aim to improve on that side of the ball.
When looking at the CB position this season, the one constant will be third-year veteran Jaylon Johnson. Thrust into the No. 1 role last season when Fuller was traded, Johnson proved that he was not only capable of being a top CB, but performed very well.
Now that he has done that, those are going to be his expectations as he will guard the other team's top WR. Should he get any help from the other side, Johnson could be on the verge of a massive season ending with a pro-bowl appearance and all-pro honors.
For him to get that help, it will have to come from one of the Bears two rookies in the secondary, the second-round pick Kyler Gordon. The former Washington Husky had a great college career where he played in 33 games and recorded 98 tackles with 14 pass breakups and two interceptions.
He will be tested early and often this season, knowing Johnson's reputation, so if things go south early, it could be a long season. However, from all accounts, the Bears have loved what they have seen in Gordon, and everyone inside the organization feels he will be a day one starter.
Duke Shelley and Kindle Vildor
Along with those two players will be the returns of Duke Shelley and Kindle Vildor, who will be battling it out for the Nickel corner position. Vildor thrived in that position last season, while Shelley has been hit or miss. Those two will have to come up huge for Chicago this season.
While Johnson may be the constant at the CB position, Eddie Jackson remains the constant at the safety position, but for how long. After putting up eye-popping numbers his first few seasons in the league, the Bears elected to make him the highest-paid safety in the league, and he hasn't been the same player since.
From a lack of making plays to his unwillingness to tackle, Jackson has become a liability on the field and one that Matt Eberflus has put on blast already. Jackson needs to return to form for the Bears defense to get to playing at the level they know they can and for Jackson to keep his job.
Should Jackson struggle again, look for DeAndre Houston-Carson to get some more reps at safety after having to play a ton last season. Granted, he wasn't that great; he is not a starting caliber safety, so put him in more of a reserve role, and you will get the best out of him.
Part of the reason for Jackson and his struggles has been the revolving door next to him. Following the loss of Adrian Amos to the Packers a few seasons ago, Jackson has seen Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Houston-Carson, and several others play next to him, and the chemistry is lacking. Hopefully, the rookie Jaquon Brisker can change that as he is someone the Bears are hoping to build around.
Taken in the second round like his teammate Gordon, Brisker hails from Penn State, where he was a phenomenal player. Over the past three seasons with the Nittany Lions, Brisker played in 34 games, with 21 coming as starts. During that time, he made 152 tackles, seven for a loss, while adding 19 pass breakups and five interceptions.
In other words, he not only showed he could be a playmaker, but a play stopper which Jackson needs next to him because behind him you have Houston-Carson and Dane Cruikshank, and neither is good enough to be long-term starters.
Granted, the Bears are in a better position this season in the secondary, but they still lack overall depth, and that could be a problem when you look at some of the names competing for a roster spot. Not only was Tavon Young added to the CB this offseason, but so were Lamar Jackson, Michael Joseph, BoPete Keyes, and Jayson Stanley.
You also have rookies Allie Green, Jaylon Jones, Jon Alexander, Elijah Hicks, and A.J. Thomas looking to make an impression. If the Bears want to get back into the playoff picture, their secondary needs to improve, and that starts with the starters and is carried through to the reserve-type players.