Last season, former Patriots WR Chad Ochocinco saw his statistics fall off drastically. A lot of people speculated that maybe he’s past his prime, while others claimed that the Patriots just had too many weapons as well as a two tight end system that set Ocho up for failure. Now, a new reason for his struggles in New England have come to light. After a season that was largely disappointing (15 receptions for 276 yards and a touchdown, with just six of those receptions coming during the final 11 weeks of the season), according to profootballtalk.com, the problem may have been just as much mental as it was physical. In an article written by Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe, the idea is presented that Ochocinco may have struggled grasping the offensive schemes that the Patriots use. Bedard stated in his article,
He just doesn’t have the football I.Q. that he appeared to have while with the Bengals. The Patriots would literally tell him to run a route a certain way, and a minute later he would run it the other way. It happened all the time… What the Patriots didn’t realize watching Ochocinco on film while with the Bengals was, according to several league sources, he ran the routes he wanted to there and it drove quarterback Carson Palmer nuts
Obviously, this isn’t all his fault. It’s a struggle to have a shortened offseason like he did and learn a very complex offense, but if it was something that was happening in Cincinnati it has to raise questions as to if it’s still going to be an issue in his new home in Miami.
Ochocinco admitted himself that he struggled with the playbook and the mental aspect of the game in New England. A source out of Miami’s camp told Greg Bedard that Ochocinco didn’t attempt to deny his struggles.
The guy did all but admit that it was a struggle for him mentally, the playbook, all that stuff,’’ the source told Bedard. “He didn’t deny that it was a problem for him, learning it up there.’
When he arrived in Miami, he immediately showed that he still has the same fire at minicamp, and showed that he was a “top performer” on the practice field. He still seems to be in excellent shape and has been showing his abilities at training camp. The only thing that should have Miami fans a little worried is a repeat of last season. There are already reports that Ochocinco has “a long way to go” with the Dolphin’s playbook.
“It’s early yet, but I think, so far so good. You know (assistant coaches) Ken (O’Keefe) and Phil (McGeoghan) have been keeping a close eye on him, but put yourself in his shoes,” New Head Coach Joe Philbin said. “We teach our offense in nine segments, and he missed seven of them, and that’s 78 percent that he missed, so he’s behind a little bit.”
Chad (Johnson) Ochocinco is heading into a make-or-break season in his career. He’s either going to show that he’s still worth a look in a league that’s getting younger while he continues to grow older or he’s going to go out with a whimper on a team without a legitimate starting quarterback. If he struggled with quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Carson Palmer at the helm, he’s going to have to give 150% to succeed with any combination of David Garrard, Matt Moore, or Ryan Tannehill. It would be in his best interests to keep his head in the game and show that he still has some gas left in the tank.