If you’ve been paying attention recently – and I know you have been – you know Chad Ochocinco is no longer a Patriot. After a pretty lackluster year with the team, the Pats released #85 and he was quickly picked up by their AFC East rivals, the Miami Dolphins.
Despite Ocho’s claim last summer that being in New England was akin to being in “heaven,” it would seem taking his talents to South Beach has put an even bigger smile on the affable receiver’s face.
While the months he spent in Foxboro were marked by restraint around the press, Ocho is back to being a big mouth, telling reporters he never really grasped the Pats playbook (well…duh) and that being in Miami is a far better fit for him. In fact, according to Fins quarterback David Garrard, Ocho took one look at the Dolphins’ playbook and told him he’d “be open.”
Garrard also told PalmBeachPost.com that sometimes Ocho freelances routes and it’s up to a quarterback to pick up on that if the receiver is going to be successful.
Um..what? Freelancing is not really what you want in a receiver. Freelancing means he’s taking what he’s supposed to be doing and altering it to fit himself instead of altering himself to fit the team. Not so good, Garrard. Did they teach you nothing in Jacksonville?
But that’s not really the point. The big question now that Ocho has dearly departed: will he blow up against his former team when they tussle during weeks 13 and 17?
Best guess: probably not.
It’s really easy to talk big. It’s easy to say the Patriots didn’t cater their offense to Ocho’s skill set or couldn’t dumb down the playbook enough for him to get it or didn’t do enough to help him be successful. That’s a really easy way to place blame.
Ochocinco is 34. He’s been in the NFL 12 seasons. He had a ton of success with the Cincinnati Bengals and broke storied wide receiver records. Bill Belichick didn’t bring him to the Patriots so he could teach him new tricks of the trade. He brought him to the team so he could be a strong veteran presence and play maker. Does anyone really believe Belichick and receiver’s coach Chad O’Shea didn’t try with Ocho? Do any of us think they didn’t work with him individually whenever he asked for help trying to understand? Sure they did.
Just like he did when he arrived in New England, Ocho is talking a big game about the success he is going to have next season because that’s who he is. Without the cocky bravado, he’s just another receiver hoping for touches.
Maybe he will light up the Pats defense in December. But let’s be honest, given how terrible that unit has been the last few years, it wouldn’t exactly be a shining accomplishment.
I’d say the bigger testament to Ocho’s skills would be whether or not he can get off Revis Island two times next season. But let’s be frank: Revis only covers number one receivers. And that just ain’t Ocho. Not anymore.