Morning Stripes: Chad Johnson wants back

The city of "Cin-cin-nati" is a place former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Johnson still feels fondly about, and one that he wishes he could have left on better terms, according to a story published in Sunday's Cincinnati Enquirer.

In the lengthy read by the Enquirer's Joe Reedy, Johnson outlines his desires to continue to play football, and expresses his unwavering faith in and love for the franchise that made him one of the most controversial playmakers of his time.

At 35, Johnson, long past his playing prime, still trains as if his phone will ring at any time. He still eats, breathes and religiously follows the game, serving as an analyst for CBS Sports. And he's also the same Chad, although maybe a little less Ochocinco these days, and a little more Johnson.

Reedy caught up with the once-lauded wideout earlier this season when the Bengals were in South Florida to play the Miami Dolphins. That weekend, the former Cincinnati star visited with players and coaches at the team hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., before hanging out on the sidelines at the Thursday night game sporting a Bengals T-shirt. A South Florida native, Johnson continues to live in Miami.

It's a solid read on the at times enigmatic, but always genuine Bengals receiver. The story gave good insight into how he remains motivated and unfazed by the R-word -- "retirement" -- even though its clear his best playing days are probably long behind him. That's considering the fact that he hasn't played on a team since last preseason, when the Dolphins released him after a shaky performance, as well as the now infamous head-butting situation with his newly wedded bride, Evelyn Lozada. Distraction? Yes, he knows he can be one, and he addresses that in the story.

As the Bengals, fresh off their bye, get back to work this week, we begin this Monday's Morning Stripes with Reedy's chat with Chad. Here also are a few more links worth checking out:

  • Sticking with the Enquirer, here's a piece from columnist Paul Daugherty, explaining his desire for quarterback Andy Dalton to start having more "What the heck?" moments. Specifically, Daugherty compares Dalton to a scene from the movie "Top Gun" in explaining that Dalton needs to send a message to anyone who questions his play any further by essentially saying: "I'm the quarterback, and you're not." Boomer Esiason had some of that in him, as Daugherty points out. Others do, too. Dalton does, but he's quicker to try to dismiss criticisms about his play rather than snap back at those who hurl them his way. That's not necessarily a bad thing, either. That's just who he is. But that's not who he should be, says Daugherty and many others.

  • Moving over to Bengals.com, Geoff Hobson has a story on the way current NFL offenses and defenses are mimicking the schemes the Bengals perfected in 1988 when they last made it to the Super Bowl. The same hurry-up, no-huddle type of offense that had influences that dated as far back as Paul Brown's coaching days, emerged. Hobson rightfully contends that today, we're seeing a league-wide, sport-wide renaissance of that same offense, and even the blitz-first defenses the Bengals employed that year. With coaches like former defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau still in the league, the modern-day NFL has adopted some of what that team did well, Hobson writes.

That's all we have from the Morning Stripes on a post-bye week Monday. Hopefully this gets your day and Thanksgiving week started off well. Good morning.