Bears rookie Jon Bostic has brains plus brawn
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter October 27, 2013 9:14PM
Cleveland Browns v Chicago Bears
Updated: October 28, 2013 12:00AM
If Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and San Diego Chargers receiver Mike Willie would have witnessed what Jon Bostic was doing at age 12, maybe they wouldn’t be on his highlight reel.
“[A] kid came back across the field when he shouldn’t have, and Jonathan was right there,” said Bostic’s father, John, a cornerback with the Detroit Lions from 1985 to ’87. “And he popped the kid kind of good.”
The impact prompted Bostic’s mother, Jacqueline, to come down from the stands.
“She pointed her finger at him and said, ‘Don’t you hit anyone like that again!’ ” John said, laughing. “We sat Mom down and talked to her afterward. It’s part of the game.”
And it’s a well-known part of Bostic’s game, as evidenced by his hits on Bridgewater as a standout linebacker at Florida and Willie this preseason with the Bears.
But it’s not all of it.
Bostic’s rise with the Bears has been accelerated by injuries to veterans D.J. Williams and Lance Briggs. Not only will Bostic make his second career start next Monday night against the Packers in Green Bay, but the Bears are considering having him handle the defensive calls. Bostic did it against the Washington Redskins after Briggs was hurt.
“He had a good performance,” coach Marc Trestman said. “I thought it was a good start for him.”
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Education is “very important to all of us” in the Bostic family, John said. Bostic’s parents have doctorates, and Bostic will pursue a master’s degree — most likely in sports psychology — this offseason.
John said he can see his son going back to school after football to become a physical therapist, but he also sees a coach inside him.
“He’s got the brainpower of a defensive coordinator,” he said.
Bostic took to the X’s and O’s early. Film study wasn’t just part of college or high school. It was part of him.
“Even when he was playing in little league, he’d watch tape to see what [his opponents] were doing,” John said. “He’s going to watch something and see how it ticks, how it works. And he’s going to say, ‘If it works this way, this is how you stop it.’ He’s always been that way.”
This isn’t a case of a father boasting about his talented son, either.
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Bostic comes from an athletic family. His sister, Jayla, is a top performer on Florida’s track and field team. His brother, Justin, who is 13 years younger, also plays football. Bostic actually played plenty of other sports — from tennis to golf to hockey — before settling on football.
“I wanted to compete,” Bostic said.
But if anyone is tough on Bostic, it’s his father, who coached him from little league through high school, missing only two years because of work obligations. He was Bostic’s defensive-backs coach in high school and currently coaches his brother.
Does John take it easy on his sons?
“Heck no,” he said. “With Dad watching, you know it’s going to be a little harder.”
Bostic was disciplined for two things at home.
“If he was disobedient or disrespectful,” John said.
Expectations always were high for everything Bostic did. The family rule was, “No grades, no play.”
“He could have made better grades if he applied himself a little bit more,” John said.
It’s just that Bostic preferred to be studying the X’s and O’s more.
“One of the first lessons he learned is how to stop something,” John said.
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Rookie linebacker Khaseem Greene knows Bostic better than other Bears players. They’ve been roommates since being drafted — “We’re tight,” Greene said — and it’s rare when they don’t come off the field together after practice.
“Jon is the same, but he just knows it’s time for him to step up now,” Greene said. “No more of us just playing special teams, and if somebody goes down, he’s just the next linebacker in. Now he’s starting.”
The two have developed “a look” with each other. When one is confused in a meeting or going through film, a look is shot, and the other is expected to help. It helped them figure out the responsibilities of the Sam linebacker when both were learning it.
“I credit his work ethic,” Greene said. “He’s a worker, and that helps bring out the best in me.”
Bostic said he has learned a lot about football from his father, whether it’s recognizing certain routes in pass coverage (Bostic used to play defensive back) or reading the running game.
Away from football, there was one guiding principle.
“Do the right thing,” a smiling Bostic said. “And don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in front of dad or your mom.”
The lessons continue.
“Just understand it’s a business,” John said. “I didn’t tell him the glory things, I told him the truth. They’re bringing you there for a reason. If you don’t do what they need you to do, you will be replaced and they’ll get someone else.”
That includes stopping the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers next Monday, next season and every year he’s here.
Bostic was drafted over other linebackers with the 50th pick in April because the Bears valued his play-calling ability. The Bears see him as the next in line in their storied history of standout linebackers, matching wits with Rodgers for years to come.
“I’m sure if Rodgers goes through that line of scrimmage and he’s running,” John said, “Jonathan is going to try to knock the crap out of him.”