Chad Ocho Cinco Johnson approves.
The Ocho, godfather of modern NFL touchdown celebrations and the brainchild of the most talked about one this season, is praising Bengals running back Joe Mixon for flawlessly executing his coin flip celebration during Sunday's 27-16 victory over the Ravens that guaranteed the Bengals all-time leading receiver is going to be in the Paycor Stadium stands Sunday night (8:15-Cincinnati's Channel 5) for the re-match with Baltimore.
"I hear it's going to be cold. I'll be bundled up," said Johnson Monday on his 45th birthday as the Miami resident plans to applaud his 1,000-yard partner when T.J. Houshmandzadeh takes the throne as "Ruler of the Jungle."
"I didn't really think anybody would do it. Obviously it's somewhat very outlandish," said Johnson, who took enough shots at the league office during his 11 seasons (2001-11) that he can't remember his biggest fines. "I just put that in the universe and for the players to actually go out there and initiate that, that was very Ochoesque and very clever on their behalf."
It's also very clever for Johnson and Houshmandzadeh to be at Paycor watching Bengals wide receivers Ja'Marr Chase (1,046 yards) and Tee Higgins (1,029), the second Bengals' receiving duo to each have 1,000-yard receiving seasons in back-to-back seasons and the first since Johnson-Houshmandzadeh in 2006-7.
Johnson, the Don Draper of athlete marketing ("I'd like to say I'm the greatest marketer to ever play")
dropped his idea into the Twitter sphere and everyone else made sure the Bengals touchdown makers saw it. It took Higgins, the latest No. 85, to approach Mixon with the not so modest proposal and with a partner in mischief, that spurred Mixon to plan it down to the quarter in his glove.
"That's classic. I like it. It was perfect. Perfect. It was perfectly executed," Johnson said. "I thought the (coin flip) rule was ridiculous. It was egregious. If I was playing, it's something I would have done."
In the Ocho Tradition, Mixon went to Twitter to log his complaint about the NFL changing the rule book and installing a coin flip to decide home-field advantage instead of winning percentage if the Bengals would lose Sunday. Mixon and his guys made sure there would no coin flip and Johnson thinks they can win it all and take the next four.
"We can go all the way. With Joe Burrow at the helm, anything is possible," Johnson said. "This is a quarterback-driven league. The quarterback determines how far you go and the fans of Cincinnati and the organization, to have a quarterback of his caliber at the helm every year, we will be in contention. That in itself says a lot. We have a shot every single year as long as Joe Burrow is there. I don't think teams want to play us in the playoffs because of the quarterback situation, plus the support they have around him."
A dozen years since he last caught a ball for the Bengals, Johnson says he's in better shape than when he played because he's still boxing and he makes the obligatory and annual plea for head coach Zac Taylor to sign him.
"I'm still one of the fastest in the world," he says and he can be been all over the globe.
He just got back from covering the World Cup for FOX and is promoting everything from WynnBET to Mojo. And now he'll be back in Cincy pushing the Bengals: "Get the run game going and the floodgates will open."
The Ocho says his own favorite celebration was the 2005 marriage proposal to a Ben-Gal cheerleader ("It was unscripted. Her reaction was authentic"), but he thinks Mixon's Coin Flip is close.
"They're different," Johnson says. "He gets a high grade for creativity and executing."
And, yes, he is paying for any and every fine stemming from the celebration.
"For anyone who is implicated," Johnson said.
PLAYOFF RUN: Yes, postseason football is just flat out different. Start with the speed and then go to the intensity. Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan saw it up close when he was in high school and his father was coaching for the Raiders. Nose tackle DJ Reader has played in nine postseason games for two different teams.
Reader: "Every stand is full, every game you're going to in the playoffs the stands are going to be rocking, it's going to be packed. Every regular-season game isn't like that. It's a one-game season. You've got to leave it all out there. Everything you've got for 60 minutes or however long it takes for all these games and I think everybody has that same mindset. You don't see anybody folding in the playoffs. It's not going to happen. Everybody is pulling out all the stops doing what they have to do to win."
Callahan: "I just remember as a 15-year-old kid watching the kickoff team run down on the opening kickoff of the playoffs, and I was like, 'Oh, wow. That's way different.' There's just another level. Because it's win or go home and the stakes are that much higher. There's another level that football hits when you get to the playoffs.
"Guys play faster and they play harder than they normally play. It's just because of the situation. It's win or go home. There's another level of football that gets amped up when you get to the playoffs. It's the best. There's nothing like it. I think there is a different level of physicality."
BACK-TO-BACK: Callahan says the Bengals held out some things last Sunday knowing that they were going to play the Ravens this Sunday. Not a major deal, but enough.
"We probably would call things maybe a little bit differently if we were really trying to go ice the game," Callahan said. "It's just the nature of having to play the same team twice in a seven-day span. I don't want to take away from their defense, either. They do a good job. Those linebackers are good players. Everybody on their defense played except (cornerback) Marcus Peters."
ADENIJI AGAIN: Although the Bengals are going into the playoffs with a new right side of the offensive line, both players have been here before and have started winning postseason games. Last Sunday was right tackle Hakeem Adeniji's first start at right tackle since 2020, but he started all four playoff games at right guard last season.
Right guard Max Scharping played 14 of his 30 snaps this season when Alex Cappa went down with an ankle injury Sunday, but he started two games for the 2019 Texans as a rookie in the playoffs. The Bengals thought Adeniji came out of his first game against the Ravens fine. Pro Football Focus had him allowing just two hurries on 46 passes.
"It's a tough front, they're big, they're strong, I thought he played well," Callahan said. "He gave up a push or two on one or two plays, but he played physical, he played hard. Came away from the game feeling pretty good about his performance."