"What you see on TV...is not me. That is nothing but entertainment." - Chad Ochocinco
I was always impressed with the greatness that is Chad Johnson. From making lists of defensive backs he was going to murk on Sundays, from the golds in his mouth, to the mohawk cut, to the gold shoes, to the endzone dances...the man was always able to go out there on that football field and back it up. Arguably one of the 2-3 best route runners of this generation, the evolution of Chad Johnson to Chad Ochocinco has been an interesting sight to see.
However, the public sentiment here locally and around the country is now starting to say that Chad needs to just "shut up and play football," that the man isn't focused anymore on playing football, he doesn't care about winning, and he only cares about being on television and keeping his name in lights.
Yeah okay...and if you believe that, then you haven't been paying attention to The Ocho.
When we were first introduced to Chad Johnson, we were shown a jovial spirit who's only goal was to be the best wide receiver in the world. He stated that he wanted to be better than "The Rice" and was willing to do whatever it took to get there. We remember hearing the legendary tales of the man sleeping in the locker room on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so that he could get as much from the game plan and preparation for Sunday as humanly possible.
"The perceptions don't win games in Cincinnati." - Chad Johnson
The only two things that Chad has ever cared about in regards to football...listen to me now...football, is being the best wide receiver he can possibly be and helping his team win football games. A man wouldn't devote as much time as he does if he didn't care.
We saw this back in '08. The Bengals, who are the Bengals, weren't winning and weren't doing a lot to improve the situation in Cincinnati. Plus, there had been undertones from the media and the organization that didn't like how he was carrying himself on and off the field (mind you, this is the same man who's never been in trouble ever legally, and a team that at the time was the Portland Trail Blazers of the NFL). Chad didn't like it, didn't like that they weren't winning, and he wanted to be traded to a winning situation. Wouldn't you?
Fine, the Bengals wouldn't trade him (Washington offered an '08 1st and an '09 2nd for Chad) and Chad came right on back to the team like nothing happened. Cool beans. Then the man tears his labrum in the preseason (although the Bengals medical staff initially treated it as a slight shoulder separation) and has no Carson Palmer out there to throw to him, yet he guts it out through the entire season Ryan Fitzpatrick and Lil' Palmer throwing him the ball. Yep, the man doesn't want to win and go out there and leave it on the field.
However, most folks didn't hear about the summer after that season. You know, where Chad felt bad for how folks perceived him here in Cincinnati and in the media. Chad's sensitive to how folks think about him. This isn't anything new and uncommon. All of us are; you know, its called being self-conscious. It started to make sense when folks like our boy King Phil told legendary tales about how Chad made up with fans in Cincinnati through numerous actions. Ask Phil about the time Chad went to the movie theater downtown and asked folks via twitter to come down and kick it and he got the tab. Chad transformed himself once again to become a man of the people, and he used the almighty Twitter machine as his vessel. The 2009 Cincinnati Bengals finish with a 10-6 record, go undefeated in the AFC North, and make the playoffs. Yep. So in 2010, after the Bengals have arguably one of the greatest seasons in franchise history, its apparent that Carson Palmer and the offense need some help. After the organization tried to bring in Antonio Bryant (fail) and signed him for $28M over 4 years, someone forgot to tell the organization that Bryant's knee was still effed up.
So what does Chad do? He convinces the Bengals organization to bring in Terrell Owens.
More than that, he makes T.O. feel welcome. He pays the proper respect to the man, he understands that they can be a dynamic duo for Cincinnati. Chad becomes Robin and lifts T.O. into Batman status. Its all good. This is going to work out great. All hail the Cincinnati Bengals for going for broke in the 2010 season.
One problem. Someone forgot to tell Carson Palmer to be a good quarterback. Someone forgot to tell the offensive line to learn how to block. Someone forgot to tell offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski how to successfully dial up a scheme that would keep defenses on their toes. Someone forgot to tell the defensive line to get a pass rush. Oh...and someone forgot to tell Marvin Lewis that the reason they were so successful last season was that they were able to keep folks honest was with a focus on running the ball with Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott. Okay, that's five problems.
Here's the deal, Chad is now the #2 receiver. He's getting less looks than he used to being the #1. Moreover, when you watch the defenses and how they play the Bengals, they still double Chad and leave Terrell Owens in one-on-one situations. T.O. has GREATLY benefited from this, as he should. He's an elite receiver. Plus, when Carson progresses through his receivers, the man locks in on who he wants to throw to. Kinda like how some of you play Madden, you've already made the decision on who you're going to throw to. Watch Carson when he drops back and tell me I'm lying.
Plus, Carson has WAY more weapons than last season. Not only does he have T.O., but he's got Jermaine Gresham at tight end and Jordan Shipley in the slot, Chad was going to get less touches REGARDLESS if T.O. was there or not. Everyone's saying that "this is Terrell's team now, he's carrying the team." Are you nuts? Have you lost your damned mind? The team is 2-6. T.O.'s not leading anything, the man is contributing like he's supposed to, and that's all you can ask from him.
Fact of the matter is this, Chad can definitely play better. He's had a case of the dropsies this year, no doubt about it. Part of the reason we notice his drops is because he usually doesn't drop the ball. Part of the reason some folks even know who Chad is is because the man was on "Dancing with the Stars" and his VH1 reality television shows. That's cool, nothing wrong with that either.
Chad is the best wide receiver in the Bengals history, and frankly he deserves way more respect that what some of you give him. If you think that the Bengals are 2-6 because of #85...well, you're just not paying attention. Just watch the clip, and enjoy your Wednesday.
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!