"I like the ball," said Johnson. "I want the ball. Let's not misunderstand anything. But if spreading the ball around is the key to success I'm all for it."
Johnson still isn't completely convinced that is the key to success, though. The Browns are 4-4 with Couch at quarterback. In the four wins, Johnson has caught 21 passes for 217 yards. In the four losses, he has 11 catches for just 77 yards.
Those numbers could support Johnson's belief that he needs more touches for the Browns' offense to be at its best.
"The proof is in the pudding," said Johnson.
Johnson posted career highs with 84 catches for 1,097 yards and nine touchdowns last year. It was a season that led to criticism that Couch would lock on to Johnson as his go-to receiver. In spreading the ball around to Quincy Morgan, Dennis Northcutt, Andre Davis and other receivers this year, Couch has thrown 12 touchdown passes in his eight games - none to Johnson.
"I'm sure he is upset with it," Couch admitted. "He's so used to getting almost every pass, but now we have a number of guys who can make plays. On any given Sunday there could be a different go-to guy. He is still a guy I have a ton of confidence in. That hasn't changed at all."
While he understands why Johnson would be discouraged, Couch thinks Johnson has shown real professionalism by refusing to rock the boat.
"I think he is happy with the success we are having in the passing game," said Couch. I don't think he would do anything to tarnish that. But obviously I think he'd like to have more catches and more balls thrown his way. That's just the way it has worked out. We have more guys who are creating a lot of mismatches in other places. You try to keep everybody happy because there are a lot of guys who can make plays for you."
Sunday's game in Cincinnati was an example of the types of mismatches Couch talked about. The Bengals opened the game with a linebacker covering Dennis Northcutt. Taking advantage of that matchup helped the Browns convert several first-half touchdowns. The emergence of Northcutt and Davis has led to potential mismatches every week against opponents' third and fourth corners. Johnson might have the same problem getting balls thrown his way Sunday in New Orleans with 10-year veteran Dale Carter expected to get the assignment of covering him.
"Carter is probably one of the best corners in the league," said Johnson. "He is known for his press technique. He is Pro Bowl caliber."