Bears Could Be without Top Defender vs. Vikings

Bears Could Be without Top Defender vs. Vikings
Aug 14, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports.

The Chicago Bears will need every edge they can find to topple the 3-1 Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Matt Eberflus’ team has a 2-2 record, thanks to some scrappy, sloppy, and unexpected wins over the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans.

And tasked with defeating a primary foe, Chicago could be without its top defender, per Pro Football Focus, cornerback Jaylon Johnson. He leads the Bears defense in 2022 with a 78.8 PFF score.

Johnson hasn’t practiced this week — not a good sign for Chicago or its fans — and is nursing a quad injury. It’s the same injury currently besetting Vikings rookie CB Andrew Booth.

Jul 29, 2021; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive back Jaylon Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports.

Drafted in the 2nd Round of the 2020 NFL Draft from Utah — he was on some Vikings fan’s draft wishlists — Johnson has blossomed into an upper-echelon defensive back in three seasons. His 78.8 PFF grade in 2022 ranks 11th-best among all corners, even better than notable defenders like Jaire Alexander, Trevon Diggs, and Darius Slay.

And the Bears may require Johnson to slow down Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who’s on pace for 1,670 receiving yards this year. They could toss two defenders on Jefferson as the Detroit Lions did in Week 3, but that would leave men like Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn open. We shall see.

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Nov 16, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports.

If Johnson is a no-go for Week, the Bears will rely on these blokes to cover Jefferson, Thielen, Osborn, and others:

  • Kindle Vildor (PFF = 54.2)
  • Kyler Gordon (PFF = 41.1)
  • Jaylon Jones (PFF = 55.8)

Johnson made headlines earlier this week by wearing a ‘cheesehead,’ the daggy marking of a Green Bay Packers fan. The Bears corner told 670 The Score, “I lost a bet. It was a bet against the Green Bay Packers. The bet was if we were going to beat the Green Bay Packers. And I will have to wear this cheesehead. So, I’m going to shamefully grab this cheesehead and wear this in this interview. I’m a man of honor, so I’m going to put this on, sadly.”

Johnson has faced the Vikings twice to date in his career, and the Bears lost both times. Minnesota is a 7.5-point favorite to defeat Chicago for the fourth time in the last six tries. The Bears will post more Week 5 clarity about Johnson’s injury on Friday or Saturday.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).