Rams WR Cooper Kupp heaps praise on Bears CB Jaylon Johnson

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Entering the 2021 season, the Chicago Bears knew they were facing a formidable foe in Week 1 when they traveled out west to face the Los Angeles Rams.

The Bears predictably came out with a loss, losing 34-14 as quarterback Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp were masterful for the Rams. Stafford completed 20-of-26 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns, with Kupp receiving seven of those passes for 108 yards and a touchdown.

The game was the beginning of a special season for Stafford, Kupp, and the Rams. With a top-five passing offense and Kupp leading the league in receptions, yards, and touchdowns, the Rams went the distance to win Super Bowl LVI. But during his historic season, Kupp admits he was impressed by a few cornerbacks he faced along the way, including a young Bears defender way back in Week 1.

Speaking with Dan Patrick on the Dan Patrick Show, Kupp was asked who was the best defensive back he faced during the season. The reigning Offensive Player of the Year named two players who were not only great, but perhaps aren’t getting the respect they deserve. One of those players was Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson.

“I thought he was a guy that would come up and challenge you, and we had to have a plan for him,” Kupp said.

The other player he listed was Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore, who flourished under Johnson’s new head coach Matt Eberflus when he was defensive coordinator prior to taking the Bears coaching job.

“Those two off the top of my head stick out as guys that I knew were challenging play in and play out,” Kupp told Patrick.

Johnson, by most accounts, had an improved second season compared to his rookie year, while being tasked with becoming the team’s top cornerback after the departure of Kyle Fuller. Though his passes defended decreased from 15 to nine, he snagged his first interception of his career and improved in areas such as targeted quarterback rating (107.5 to 101.9), lowering yards after completion (270 to 214), and reducing his missed tackle percentage (17% to 13.2%.

Against Kupp and the Rams in Week 1, Johnson had five total tackles and one pass defended. He was targeted three times, allowing just one catch for 13 yards.

Entering his third season, Johnson will have more help in the secondary as general manager Ryan Poles bolstered the defense in the draft with rookies Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker. Johnson will continue to play a key role on defense in Eberflus’ system and is still looking to take that next step towards becoming an elite cornerback. But he has a fan in Kupp and may not be slept on for much longer.

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