Week 1 in the NFL can be a time of supreme joy or never-ending sorrow with little in between.
Chicago Bears rookie running back Roschon Johnson may have settled into that middle ground during Sunday’s 38-20 loss to the rival Green Bay Packers. It was as hyped as any matchup between the two teams in recent memory with the overwhelming sentiments in the Bears’ locker room being that it was their time only for the team to fall well short of their Week 1 goal.
Not all was lost, though, as Johnson – the No. 115 overall pick in this year’s draft – provided a glimpse of what he can do when it counts including catching passes out of the backfield and, of course, punching in his first NFL touchdown. He spoke after the game of balancing his encouraging debut with the reality of the outcome.
“My objective is to win,” Johnson said. “If we’re not doing that, then I’m not doing my job to the standard that it needs to be. Ultimately, I gotta bring everybody with me. We just gotta learn from it and grow from it.”
Roschon Johnson: Bears Must ‘Grow’ From Loss to Packers
Roschon Johnson ‘Definitely’ Got Into Endzone on First Try
Johnson finished the game with 20 yards on five carries. His 4.0 yards per carry would have tied for the 19th-highest mark in the league last season but it led the day for the Bears’ backs.
They combined for 63 of their 122 yards between Johnson, Khalil Herbert, and D’Onta Foreman.
He recorded his first score with the game already out of hand, and many of the Packers’ starters had earned the rest of the day off. Still, Johnson ripped off solid gains of five, six, and eight yards on his first three carries of the game. It took him two tries to get into the endzone, though he said after the game that he got into the endzone the first time “for sure”.
.@roschon punches it in for his first NFL touchdown
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 10, 2023
“It feels good [to score],” Johnson said. “I’m blessed to be able to score in this league. But I’m trying to win, so.”
There was an outside belief that Johnson could challenge for lead-back duties or at least cut into Foreman’s workload substantially. On Sunday, Johnson finished with 29 snaps to Herbert’s 27 and 21 for Foreman, though his first touch did not come until the third quarter.
Herbert caught three passes for 37 yards while Johnson needed six to reach 37 yards. Foreman caught two balls for eight yards.
Bears Need to Get Rushing Attack Back on Track
The Bears boasted the NFL’s best rushing attack last season and they rank eighth this season despite the tough day from the backs thanks to Justin Fields. But if they are going to carry the load in a similar fashion as last season, they need the backs to assert themselves. Johnson did that and he has been impressive since arriving in April.
It will be interesting to see what an encore performance could do to the snap counts that game-script already hasn’t.
But Foreman is on just a one-year contract while Herbert is in year three of a four-year pact.