I make a point not to focus on one particular team or go all sensationalist and use expletives in my articles and headlines unless it’s absolutely warranted, but this headline is a direct quote in a text I got from a close friend of mine (thanks for the inspiration, Blake) who is an avid Miami Dolphin fan that seems to share the sentiment of many NFL media sources I’ve come across for the <bleep>head in question, Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson since his signing with the club this offseason.
I’ll spare the Fin fans of the world the hypocrisy rant I could deliver where I was sitting in Dolphins Stadium in 2007 and they were all shouting to him from the lowest 5 rows, “Come on, Chad!
It’s better weather than in Cinci” during the match up against the Bengals in Week 16 where Head Coach Cam Cameron and QB John Beck were both lame ducks in their respective positions (After all, it was about 5 seasons ago). Since then, however, he’s had 3 more seasons as a top level performer with the Bengals whose former QB Carson Palmer was one of the least publicized disgruntled QBs in recent history during that time. He averaged 64 catches during those 3 seasons where the “85″ recorded over 2400 yards in 43 games.
Then here comes the elephant in the room — the 2011 season where he suited up for the AFC Champion New England Patriots. The lack of a performance or impact represents a deafening silence that leaves Miami fans screaming in a paralyzing fear. Look I get it . . . 15 games and 15 catches is bad. This is especially true when compared with 2010s 67 catches in 14 games. The only milestone he broke in 2011 was he was able to record a catch in a Super Bowl for the first time in his soon-to-be 12 year career. Before Fin fans start breaking out the orange sandwich signs that read “The End is Near” written in aqua colored font, perhaps there’s the some things to consider why this might be a good thing.
Who else they got at WR?
Don’t get me wrong., Fin fans especially. I appreciated TE Randy McMichael (the one year he produced well), WR Greg Camarillo, and RB Ronnie Brown in the passing game. They ‘re highlights in recent Miami NFL Football history. I still respect TE Anthony Fasano, WR Devon Bess, and newcomer WR Legadu Naanee as football players, but the truth is this — There has only been 2 top flight receiver names since they parted ways with WR Wes “the Weapon” Welker and that was WR Brandon Marshall and Ocho Cinco is now the second.
Is year 12 Chad Ocho Cinco as good as the Chad Johnson of old? That’s miles and miles of “no”. But a 2012 Ocho Cinco who plays 75% of what Chad Johnson did is better than any WR the Fins have on their roster. And that’s WITHOUT mentioning the veteran presence and the effect he’ll have on the sideline/locker room. In addition to teaching the young players the craft of NFL football, he’ll be diverting the press from focusing on front office foul-ups forever forgoing future movement from the year 1972 and Dan Marino for the Miami franchise.
The QB they do have. (Or don’t have depending on your point of view)
If rookie QB Ryan Tannehill is indeed the starter in the coming season, he’s already got a lot going against him. The Fins had high expectations last year and fans have blamed the lack of a QB for the disappointment found in missing the playoffs. (Rightfully so with fall of QB Chad Henne) Next, the Miami front office didn’t get QB Peyton Manning, then Tannehill fell to Miami’s pick in the 1st round of the draft where many fans and pundits (this one included) claim that they reached to pick him out of desperation for a QB.
While acknowledging none of these are the young QB’s fault, the fun and whacky antics and one-liners of the wily and witty wide receiver “85″ could be the knife of sanity that cuts through the crazy for a rookie in the above predicaments and allow him to devote to development.
Best Case Scenario: The Randy Moss Defense
So begins the parallel between WR Randy Moss moving to New England and Chad Johnson in Miami. A few things up front, Moss is a better player, yes, but he had more competition to overcome to be a stand out on 18-1 Patriots team. We’ve establish Ocho Cinco does not. Also, Randy Moss was close to the same age Johnson is now, but overall younger when he made his transition as well and had the luxury of QB Tom Brady to revitalize his career.
However, there are similarities that exist. Moss was taken out of an environment where he could be successful (Winning with Minnesota with HOF WR Chris Carter before he retired and Madden Curse victim QB Daunte Culpepper) and ended up with the Raiders where he was no longer motivated to perform in his surroundings and turned in his worst season to that point in 2006. (No, not 15 catches for 15 games bad, but the worst in his career to that point) Then for the lowly price of a 4th round pick (or a pack of Skittles according to some rumors) the Pats got him and returned him to a winning environment were Moss flourished as a member of one of the most statistically dominant teams in history. Moss needed winning surroundings in order to be a star.
How could this possibly apply to Chad Ocho Cinco? His arrival in 2001 to the Bengals may have been relatively uneventful, but his 6 straight years of 1100+ yard seasons where he was the man and he was allowed to be not just an individual, but a media star through TV, radio, and a force in the rise of Twitter to prominence. So for the “85” to make the transition to the regimented confines of the New England Patriots, not only was the change in playbook a challenge, but the sharing of the spotlight with other players who would frown on him if he even whispered the words “reality TV” in their presence.
In coming to Miami, he returns to a setting where the only other big name is a revitalized RB Reggie Bush and celebrity is something shared by several minority owners (Gloria Estefan, J-Lo and Fergie of the Black Eye Peas). Returning to comfortable surroundings as Moss did after a bad year could be exactly the difference between a single catch in the Super Bowl loss and several catches in a playoff loss.
So with the Doom and Gloom debunked, I hope I’ve talked some of the Fin Fans from the edge of the cliff. And if my theories don’t provide any sort of comfort for the 2012 season, at least they’ll be something entertaining in the 2012 Preseason Hard Knocks footage in beyond the prospect of gawking at Ryan Tannhill’s wife. (Though I don’t know how much comfort Ocho Cinco footage would provide for my single friends compared to that).