It’s easy to form a quick opinion about a player, a team, or a position after watching a game without letting the season play out, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do in the weekly postgame “Rush to Judgment” feature here on Musket Fire.
We all saw what happened during the loss to Buffalo on Sunday. Tom Brady targeted Chad Ochocinco four times, even though Chad was on the field for 60 of the the offense’s 75 plays. Two of those targets, Ochocinco caught the ball for a total of 28 yards. Of the other two, one was intercepted and the other was a would-be 41-yard touchdown but it went right threw Ocho’s arms like they were a basketball hoop. Week 1 against Miami, he was targeted three times and made one catch for 14 yards, while in Week 2 against the Chargers, he was targeted twice and made two catches for 45 yards. The numbers are pretty lackluster for someone with Chad’s resume.
We’ve all heard about Ochocinco’s struggles picking up the Patriots’ offense, but the drop? That was just bad.
Ocho was asked about the drop after the game, and he had the following to say:
“It felt good; mentally, I knew my [stuff],’’ he said. “It got away from me. I gotta come up with everything that comes my way.’’
Yesterday morning on WEEI, Brady defended his teammate:
“Yeah, he’s been working hard at it,” Brady said. “I think the last few weeks, he’s really been much more involved in the game and playmaking. And we’re going to need him. We’re going to need every single player on the roster. I have a lot of confidence in Chad. He works hard, he wants to do the right thing, he studies. He spends time after practice trying to get it right. It’s just been a lot for the new guys in particular, the rookies and for the veteran free agents, to really take in in a short amount of time. But we’re making progress each week, and it’s showing up.
“Chad is definitely making more plays for us, and that’s important for our offense. They’re going to have to defend everybody.”
All we’ve been hearing since the trade at the beginning of training camp was that Chad has been working and studying hard. At what point do the Patriots say, “Sorry man but it’s not working?” While Taylor Price has been sidelined with a hamstring injury, there has to be a point where if Chad Ochocinco still isn’t “getting it” that the Patriots have to decide if it’s in the team’s best interests to keep a receiver who’s not performing or see what the kid’s got. That time could be coming right around the corner. You don’t want to see Brady force the ball to Chad to try and get him involved, because that’s when interceptions happen.
I was in the camp that thought that Chad’s work ethic and route running ability would allow him to fit right in with the Pats, but we’re over two months into his tenure and he doesn’t seem to be getting it. I know Randy Moss is in a class all his own, but he didn’t play at all in his first preseason with the Patriots and then came out Week 1 and lit it up. Wes Welker fit right into the offense his first season as well. I wasn’t expecting Moss or Welker with Chad, but certainly more than we’ve seen. The Pats’ bye week is in Week 7, and my gut tells me that if Ochocinco doesn’t pick up his game by then he could be a roster spot not worth saving. I hope I’m wrong.