« Hard Knocks sets the scene -- which is bad for Vontae Davis | Main | A look at position battles heading into preseason »

The differences between Chad Johnson and Brandon Marshall

Chad Johnson, who made a big deal about enjoying new freedom with the Dolphins after being muzzled in New England last season, today walked past the media and announced, "I don't do media anymore."

The change is obviously tied to Johnson's issue with coach Joe Philbin this camp in which the coach was displeased with Johnson's language and the way he represented the organization in his one press conference since joining the team.

The displeasure was on full display Tuesday night on Hard Knocks -- with a little career chat from Philbin as well as the advancing of the idea that Johnson will have to tow the line or be in danger of getting cut.

So there's that. Chad Johnson is being his usual enigmatic self and there is backwash from it. And that leads me to this: On more than one occasion since camp started I've had people suggest to me the Dolphins this offseason basically traded one problem child for another when they traded Brandon Marshall and signed Chad Johnson. That idea seems to have gained traction following Johnson's bizarre opening press conference and particularly following the airing of last night's Hard Knocks premier.

But let me share with you what I've been told by people with the team.

They don't see Johnson and Marshall as identical or even remotely similar.

The Dolphins believed, at the end, that Brandon Marshall was trouble to have on the team. They had grown weary of his ways. And the idea that he was a distraction was the least of the many, many concerns they had about Marshall.


He's something of a flake. A clown. A cut-up. He needs to clean up his language because, as coach Joe Philbin says, he's representing the team and this team wants to be represented in a certain fashion. But is Johnson dangerous? Is he going to get into violent disputes, either with people or family?

That's not been his history so far.

The truth about Marshall, whom I liked by the way, is that police were not just called to his house the one time his wife stabbed him. There was a long history of problems at the Marshall house. I'm told cops were called at least half-a-dozen times we didn't know about in addition to the stabbing incident that made headlines.

Marshall was also problematic among teammates. On more than a couple of occasions, I'm told Marshall totally lost it on the sideline and would yell at teammates or coaches or both. It got to the point, I'm told, nobody would go near Marshall. And this is in addition to the torment I'm told he heaped upon his quarterbacks, particularly Chad Henne.

Obviously, this is all second-hand and I'm certain Marshall would have a different version of these stories. So I give him that and so should you. But the things multiple people have told me about him paint a picture of a problem child that didn't seem headed in the right direction.

Combine this with good but not great results on the field -- remember he dropped a handful of TD passes last year -- and you can understand why Miami felt the need to trade Marshall.


If he's true to his history, he won't be getting arrested. Cops won't be showing up at his house responding to violent domestic disputes.

He may, however, wear on some teammates, as he did in Cincinnati. He may be something of a diva, as he was once he started producing. And he may not always be consistent in his performance, as evidence by his last year with the Bengals and last year in New England.

It should be said that Marshall today is probably a better player than Johnson. On the other hand, Johnson may be less of a problem child than Marshall, particularly when it comes to legal matters. The Dolphins will soon find out if Johnson, like Marshall, becomes a distraction or an embarrassment to the organization -- an issue for which Philbin may not have a lot of patience.

"There's a certain way, again, we want everybody to be themselves. I don't want everybody to be Joe Philbin," Philbin said today. "Everybody's different. We want to let guys be themselves. However, we think everybody has an obligation to get on board with the program. I told Mr. Ross we were going to have men that represented themselves in the right way on and off the field. And that's important to me. It's importnat to our staff. I believe it's important to our owner that we do things the right way.

"Again, I'm not going to sit here and say I've never cursed or used an inappropriate comment. I'm sure I have. There might have been some on the show because sometimes on the field I do ... It's important to all of us. I really believe that.

"We're not going to be a great football team if we've got 51 guys doing things a certain way and maybe two guys who are on their own program. It's too hard. It's too tough. We have to have guys that think the same way and whose brains think the same way about football. They can act different and dress differently. But they all kind of have to think the same. They have to buy in. If someone doesn't want to buy into the program, that's a problem."