By Josh Kramer
Think back to the year 2007. Who was the best wide receiver in all of football? Now right away Randy Moss should come to mind after reeling in a record 23 touchdown receptions and nearly helping the Patriots complete the first perfect season in the NFL since 1972 (Dolphins). On most people’s list Chad Johnson would rank as number two or three. Between the years of 2003 to 2007, Chad Johnson was no only one of the most entertaining players in the game, he was always one of the elite. During the four-year span of 2003 to 2006, Chad Johnson became the only player in NFL history to lead his conference in receiving yards for four consecutive seasons.
Boy have times changed. Not only has his game seen a colossal decline, his name has changed. Yesterday, Ochocinco hit rock-bottom when he was released by the New England Patriots after just one season. As mentioned earlier, Ochocino was one of the best players on the planet not that long ago. Since, he has become arguably the most influential athlete in the world of social media, and possibly the least influential on the actual field. Ochocinco may have nearly 3.5 million followers on Twitter, but he amassed an abysmal 15 catches last season for a meager 276 yards and one touchdown.
Now Chad is most definitely aging. He is 34-years-old and has played 11 basically injury free seasons in the NFL. But that wasn’t the issue in New England. With Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, the physical gifts aren’t the only thing that gets the job done. It is the mental aspect of football. A part of Chad Ochocino’s game that went severely unnoticed until his last couple of years in Cincinnati. Many including myself wondered for years how the Colts could sign a random wide receiver off the street, and this new acquistion and Peyton Manning would instantly have a far better chemistry than Ochocino and Palmer had.
Ochocinco’s performance or lack thereof this season in New England confirmed why. The guy can’t learn a playbook. I have never and will never question the work ethic of Chad Ochocinco. If he works out and trains half as much as he says according to his Twitter handle, that is not the issue. Reports have come out during the course of the past year that Ochcocinco was struggling to grasp the nuances of the very complex offensive playbook in New England.
Physical talent alone does not get the job done in New England. Belichick’s players outsmart the opposition on a weekly basis. Chad did not fit this culture. After spending a decade in Cincinnati with the same offensive coordinator, Ochocinco still could not figure out the playbook. If I am a team in need of a wide receiver, I look for an alternative route. Ochocinco is not the answer. Guy can’t learn an NFL playbook. Unless a team plans on strictly running “go” routes with Ochocinco, Ocho should be a no go.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.