After spending 10 seasons as a perennial Pro Bowl star for the Cincinnati Bengals the always entertaining Chad Johnson will don a third different uniform in as many years for the 2012 Miami Dolphins. Johnson returns to Miami where he was born, and where he played high school football. Johnson grew up as a ‘Phins phan, and like me he loved the Marks brothers (Mark Clayton, and Mark Duper). The calender is about to turn to August, so it is time to move past whatever last name choice Chad has made lately. It’s football time.
We know Johnson has been an entertainment machine. On and off the field. Dancing with the Stars, WWE, acting gigs, and MLS to name a few. On the field this is a guy entering his twelfth NFL season. He has been good. Very good. Check the career averages – 15 games, 12 starts, 70 catches, 1,000 yards, 6 TDs. The opening decade of the 2000s was dominated by Ochocinco, but these impressive career averages are in a downturn.
2011 was spent with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. His numbers were insignificant despite appearing in 15 games (3 starts). Johnson averaged 1 catch per game with the Brady bunch. 1 TD all year, in fact just 5 TDs in last 2 seasons for Johnson despite 29 games (15 starts). Easy to wonder how Johnson can get back to relevance with either David Garrard or Matt Moore (and eventually Ryan Tannehill) when he hit rock bottom playing with a top-tier guy like Brady. At 34 it would seem as though his best days are behind him, perhaps even career over.
Not so fast.
At least according to the man himself. Johnson recently told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that “My personality was controlled last year” in New England. He has said he wants to get back to his former over-the-top ways. His fine-incurring ways. He believes his chance to get back to relevance is if he allows his attitude to boil over, which is Ochocinco being Ochocinco. He even has a plan to prepay Commissioner Roger Goodell as much as 6-digits for the fines he feels headed for in 2012. He believes if he is himself he can let his game flow too.
Johnson also said “This season is going to be a monster year”. His disappointing 2011 has not knocked his confidence, in fact he feels great. One specific thing that has him feeling so good is he got back to work with trainer Charlie Collins. Johnson acknowledges he was overconfident when it came to his skills, so he re-united with Collins. Ochocinco’s best seasons came when he put in work in the off-season with Collins. The work is already showing results. Johnson is in fantastic shape, and in practice he is showing speed and quickness. He is impressing with his ability to get open, and his routes are crisp/solid (something that has been sloppy at times for Ochocinco). Johnson is getting a ton of time working with the starters. So far, so good. He is even earning praise from the defensive-backs that are trying to cover him everyday.
Johnson has seemed pleased/impressed with head coach Joe Philbin, and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. Both men preach a team-first approach, and Johnson seems to be on board. Of course the real tests will come if/when Miami faces adversity. So far Johnson’s take is that it will not matter who is at QB. He even said that it could be Oprah. Whether it is Garrard or Moore I can see the QB looking for Johnson, at least early on, as a veteran who is in great shape and can make a play. A solid option.
Johnson is on a mere 1-year contract, but this is a franchise that has opportunities for him. He will get a chance to show he is still a legit NFL WR who can produce.
2012 is going to be a huge year for Chad Johnson, just ask him.
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