Bears’ Jaylon Johnson: Justin Fields should be our quarterback in 2024

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Published
Jan. 17, 2024 5:56 p.m. ET

With the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears have the chance to select their new franchise quarterback (e.g. USC‘s Caleb Williams), but cornerback Jaylon Johnson doesn’t want to hear it.

Chicago’s star cornerback explained to Keyshawn Johnson on the inaugural edition of “All Facts No Brakes” that he wants the franchise to stick with quarterback Justin Fields.

“It’s tough for me and him having different coordinators, different coaches, different regimes come in and out, and I think it’s hard to truly adjust as a young quarterback being able to do that. I definitely, for me, can see the talent that he has in practice, the throws that he can make, the accuracy, but I think you can definitely tell when he’s confident and when he’s not confident, when he’s settled in a pocket and when he’s not,” Johnson said about Fields. “He just kind of looks, I feel like, a lot different. 

“I think just going in and saying ‘oh, we’ll just get rid of him, he’s not the answer,’ I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s kind of taking the easy way out and making the coaches not take accountability, because I think the coaches have a big part in developing the quarterback. I think that he hasn’t had an opportunity to truly be developed yet, now going on his third coordinator in his fourth year. 

“It’s about the people around him. I think it starts with the quarterback coach, it starts with the offensive coordinator, the teaching and molding and building him into being that quarterback … if you get some dawgs around him, some O-line that can consistently hold up, I think a good running game, receivers, we got D.J. [Moore] and we were building some good things I think on offense, but we definitely need more I feel like as far as playmakers and guys to put him in the best position.”

Keyshawn & Bears All-Pro Jaylon Johnson on Justin Fields, Cowboys Collapse & Lions

Chicago is coming off a 7-10 season that saw it experience a four-game jump from 2022.

Across the 13 starts that Fields made this season (Fields missed four games due to a thumb injury), he totaled 2,562 passing yards, 16 passing touchdowns, nine interceptions and an 86.3 passer rating, while completing 61.4 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 657 yards and four touchdowns.

As a whole, Chicago averaged 182.1 passing yards (27th in NFL), 141.1 rushing yards (second), 323.2 total yards (20th) and 21.2 points (18th) per game.

Regarding Johnson’s note about coaching turnover, Bears head coach Matt Eberflus will return for a third season, but offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko were let go. In other words, Fields will have a third offensive coordinator if Chicago keeps him for 2024; Bill Lazor was Fields’ offensive coordinator for his rookie season (2021) under head coach Matt Nagy.

All that said, Colin Cowherd isn’t sold on Fields — who sports a career 10-28 record — being the team’s long-term answer at quarterback.

“To this point, Justin Fields’ career is like Desmond Ridder; they have the same passer rating. In fact, Desmond Ridder’s won more games,” Cowherd said on Wednesday’s edition of “The Herd.” “If you could get a second-round pick for Justin Fields — forget a first, that’s not happening — if you’re Chicago, you call a team and Atlanta says ‘we’ll take a second,’ you literally simultaneously keep them on the phone and call the league office to get approval for the trade.”

Is Justin Fields worth a first-rounder?

Meanwhile, Johnson is coming off arguably the best season of his four-year NFL career. Across the 14 games that Johnson appeared in, he totaled a career-high four interceptions — including one pick-six — and 10 passes defended. Furthermore, he earned his first Pro Bowl nod.

As for Johnson’s future, the cornerback is set to hit free agency. In Johnson’s eyes, he’s worthy of being the highest paid cornerback in the sport.

“I’m going to go in, and the ball is really in my court,” Johnson said of his impending free agency. “I’m just going to continue to wait for them [the Bears] and then we’re gonna reach and come to terms on it, and, hopefully, it’s what I think I’m deserving of.”

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