In some respects, a good argument was made during the New York Giants Super Bowl run, that the team actually became better when Tiki Barber retired and Jeremy Shockey went on IR for the season. Head Coach Tom Coughlin made it a point to change his own character and player approach after 11 seasons as a head coach with the Giants and Jaguars. The Giants didn't win because they made a splash in free agency. Nor did they draft a guy or two that revolutionized their team. A majority of the players were the same team that went 8-8 the year before.
Granted, I'm not a Giants fan. I don't follow them nor keep tabs on their performances. The impression I saw was the Giants became better, after losing good talent, because they united as a team with the distractions long gone.
See, as a Bengals fan, this is why I'm confused. Wide receiver Chad Johnson, this week, reiterated his position that he wants to go to any team other than the Cincinnati Bengals.
Why does he want to leave?
"Wait a minute, stop 85. It’s always about the money. This is a business. You play this game for a reason, because it’s about the money. We fill those stands for those owners because it’s about the money. Coaches want to win because you get new deals because it’s about the money. Players want to play at a very high level because you get money. … Chad continues to play at a very high level, so he can get that money. But right now in this situation, I don’t want any money from where I am. That’s not what I asked for." [PFT]
Chad, it's pretty hard to know what you want. But we know it's rarely about team, is it? If he's not bear hugged by head coach Marvin Lewis after committing a 15-yard penalty for an end-zone celebration, he's walking out of bounds yards short of a first on fourth down. If he's not dropping critical third down passes that forces a punt to the opposition who scores another touchdown, he's shouting -- whinning? -- to Carson Palmer on national television. If he's not punching coaches in the eye because he's not getting the ball after the world unraveled due to Palmer's knee injury, he's being "restrained." From what exactly? We don't know. Well, we do know. But the team thinks we're suckers for spin.
Chad wants to go to a team to win a playoff game. Perhaps even a Super Bowl. Yet, Chad, the leading nomination for distraction saturated wide receiver this off-season, fails to observe the simple concept of team. No one is stupid enough to actually believe Johnson is willing to do what it takes to be a team and lead them to a playoff win. He shouts at quarterbacks, has to be restrained in a headlock for some unknown reason (umm, punching coaches?), drops critical passes and fails to keep his head in the game -- like trotting out of bounds three yards short of a first on fourth. When I say trot, I mean he didn't even turn around to work nor fight for the first down.
It seems to me, as the off-season goes, that the Bengals will not make any post-season as long as Chad Johnson remains on this team. That's not a slam on his talent nor production. It's a slam on his inability to join the team, be a teammate and work together as a team for a greater goal. Assuming that he's the ring-leader of this broken lockerroom we keep hearing about, I just don't see how the team can unite with Chad Johnson. He's divisive, selfish and angry.
Perhaps, just perhaps, trading Johnson will make the team better. A trade would hurt the team's salary cap. Sure. The passing attack would be too focused on T.J. Houshmandzadeh. However, would that price for a silent unified lockerroom be well worth it?