Is this the end of Chad Ochocinco in New England?
|10.16.11 at 9:07 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Rap music — don’t ask me what song — was blaring from Chad Ochocinco’s locker minutes after the Patriots’ 20-16 comeback win over the Cowboys.
And after six weeks it appears that is all No. 85 brings to the table for this team. Turns out a fifth-round pick and a $4.75 million signing bonus gets you a flop for a wide receiver but a home run for a disc jockey.
Look, sometimes it doesn’t work out. For every Mike Vrabel there is at least one Donald Hayes. And maybe we are all trying too hard to read into body language (and here’s my nickel’s worth — Ochocinco was clearly upset, very emotional indeed while walking out of the locker room after declining to speak to the media) and his relationship with Tom Brady and all things Twitter. Could be a classic Boston overreaction.
So let’s instead focus on facts. Chad Ochocinco has nine catches in six games. Chad Ochocinco has 136 yards receiving (in a historically productive offense) through six games. Through six games, Chad Ochocinco has as many TD catches as Evelyn Lozada.
And he never plays. Well, almost never. My first-draft snap count from Sunday has Ochocinco on the field for a grand total of four plays (including the final play of the first half — which was a run-out-the-clock rush from Danny Woodhead). Hey, almost as many snaps as Zoltan Mesko!
The last snap — which I suppose could be the final snap in his New England career, I’d call it a coin flip — was another for Ochocinco’s 2011 reel of mishaps. With four receivers loaded on the right side of the field, Ochocinco was the lone wideout on the left side, matched up one-on-one with Terrence Newman. Again, what follows is 100 percent speculation, but it sure looked like Ochocinco ran the wrong route. How do we know this? Well, A) Brady absolutely reamed him out after the incompletion and B) we did not see DJ 85 on the field again.
And this is how it’s been for Ochocinco this season. Mistake after mistake. In Week 1, a drop, a poorly run route and a dopey penalty that wiped out a 40-yard Rob Gronkowski catch. Week 3 vs. Buffalo? The weak route on a Leodis McKelvin interception (for me his lowest moment so far this year — I can live with the other stuff, but he just quit on that play) and a “Did that just happen?” drop on what would have been a wide-open fourth-quarter TD. (The Patriots eventually scored a TD on the drive but the drop was plenty costly. It came with 8:12 left in the fourth quarter. The Welker TD came with 3:25 left. Pretty sure the Patriots would’ve like those 287 seconds back as Ryan Fitzpatrick was taking a knee to set up the game-winning field goal.)
There are Carl Crawford parallels here. Both have had success in smaller markets. Both have struggled mightily in their first season in Boston (career worsts all around, and how many times did you ask, “Can he really be this bad?” when watching Crawford this season? Same with Ochocinco, right?). Both — hello again to speculation — seem awfully sensitive when it comes to pressure from the media. But the differences, of course, are these: Crawford is three years younger and has about $120 million guaranteed left on his contract.
Ochocinco is 33 years old, very squarely on the back nine for 99 percent of NFL receivers. The days of 90 catches and 1,300 yards already were gone. We knew that when the trade was made, of course. All the Patriots were hoping for was a role player, a guy who could fit somewhere right behind Wes Welker and Deion Branch.
Will he Tweet that he’s gone from heaven to hell? Will the media get together for a farewell group hug? Is this really the end of Child Please?
Not sure that he would be missed on the field, but good luck finding a DJ that can match his skills.