Is Ochocinco’s Time in New England Dwindling?

Mark Chiarelli

Chad Ochocinco was billed as the best down field receiver to play in New England since Randy Moss. With just a 5th and 6th round draft pick, the New England Patriots acquired one of the most eccentric, yet productive, wide receivers in the National Football League. At quick glance, it resembled a match made in heaven. The ever-appealing Ochocinco took to twitter to describe his first days in New England as “heaven” and cloud “nine”, cherishing his immediate introduction to the Patriots.

New England is now 6 games into their season. For 52 players on the roster, 2011 has been a fairly enjoyable ride. New England boasts the best record in the AFC (5-1) and the most prolific quarterback-wide receiver tandem(Tom Brady-Wes Welker).

Unfortunately for Chad Ochocinco, 2011 has been everything short of a disaster.

Ochocinco’s production through 6 games boasts a whopping 9 catches and 136 yards. Even more disturbing is his lack of points, with zero touchdowns on the season. While others thrive in the NFL’s most productive offense, Ochocinco’s struggles dropped him to 5th on the depth chart, seeing just 7 plays against the Dallas Cowboys.

In what’s been a microcosm of Ochocinco’s time in New England, most of America witnessed only one Ochocinco play. Ocho ran a 7 yard slant route on third down only to see Brady throw to his back shoulder. The mistake rewarded Ochocinco with a verbal thrashing from Tom Brady on the sideline following the incompletion.

Unfortunately, the sight of Brady reprimanding Ochocinco like a child is a sight for sore eyes in New England. Ochocinco’s approaching the three month mark in his tenure with New England, yet still deals with the daily struggle of learning an admittedly complicated Patriots playbook. He rarely speaks with the media and his twitter has fallen dormant, leading to even more speculation about the struggles of Chad Ochocinco.

What’s the next step for Chad Ochocinco?

The Patriots enter their week 7 bye. Bye weeks are a notoriously dangerous time for under-performing veterans, Ochocinco being no exception. For now, it seems as if Ocho will be given the benefit of the doubt. Offensive Coordinator Bill O’Brien stuck behind Ochocinco and player development leader Nick Caserio dubbed him “the Patriots best practice player.”

But at some point, Ochocinco will need to translate his production as a glorified practice all-star to the field on Sunday’s. While the general vibe in New England is that Ochocinco will turn it around soon, the proverbial clock is ticking. At some point, Tom Brady won’t be able to bail out Ochocinco when he drops a touchdown in the end zone or runs the wrong route.

If Ochocinco is to turn it around, he needs to make an impact in week 9, or he could easily find himself looking for a new job by next season.