People remember the ending sequence between the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions on Sunday mostly for the obvious. That being the huge dropped pass by rookie running back D’Andre Swift that cost the Lions a touchdown. That moment overshadowed the very next play when Bears rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson knocked away Matthew Stafford’s final pass attempt to preserve the victory.

When finally given a chance to evaluate the entirety of that play? Bears fans should be way more impressed with the 2nd round pick. He had a tremendous game overall but that play might’ve been his best. The fact it came in the biggest moment cannot and should not be ignored.

What makes the play so impressive is how difficult it was. Johnson was lined up against the Lions’ best receiver Marvin Jones Jr. A guy who had posterized him earlier in the game by running him over. It would’ve been easy for the rookie to be intimidated. He was not. Johnson calmly let the play develop and shadowed Jones in the end zone.

Where it got truly impressive is when the scramble drill started. Stafford bought time out to his right. At the same moment, Jones stopped and began running in the opposite direction of his original route. Johnson shifts direction quickly checks behind him to note where Jones is and then has to turn back to see the ball in the air. Then he makes the play.

If he is just a split-second late in diagnosing all of that? It’s a touchdown.

Jaylon Johnson has an incredibly bright future

People need to stop and think about this. Johnson arrives in Chicago nursing a surgically-repaired shoulder. He gets no minicamps or OTAs because of COVID-19. Then his reps are limited at the start of training camp because of the shoulder. Despite all of that, he wins the starting job over Kevin Toliver, a more experienced veteran. Then he starts the opener on the road against a very good quarterback and allows just two catches on six targets.

Amidst that, he deflects one pass that results in an interception that swung the momentum of the game in the Bears’ favor. Then he knocks the final throw away in a pure one-on-one moment against a good receiver like Jones. That is not normal for rookie cornerbacks. It could be a sign that the team may have gotten a truly special one in this draft class.

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