|Ochocinco still looking to get comfortable in the Patriots' offense. (Getty Images)|
Posted by Ryan Wilson
The Patriots are 5-1, their latest win coming against the Cowboys on a late fourth-quarter scoring drive orchestrated by quarterback Tom Brady. Yes, it was all very familiar. But one of the team's big acquisitions during free agency, wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, still looks uncomfortable in New England's offense.
Sunday, he was on the field for seven plays, and targeted just once. And the one time Brady threw in Chad's direction, the two weren't on the same page and the pass fell incomplete (which has been the case on several occasions this season).
"After the play, Brady could be seen yelling at Ochocinco as the wideout walked back toward the huddle," the Boston Globe's Shalise Manza Young wrote Monday. "And fair or not, the exchange brought back memories of the Joey Galloway Experiment, a failure by any measure."
The experiment of which Young speaks took place two years ago. And on October 20, 2009, the Pats had seen enough and cut ties with Galloway, who had just seven catches for 67 yards, and wasn't even on the game-day roster the final three weeks of his tenure in New England.
At the time, ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss wrote that Galloway struggled with the offensive system, which sounds a lot like the issues that currently plague Ochocinco. The issue, it seems, is that the Patriots' offense is more complex than anything Chad saw during his ten years in Cincinnati, and it's not uncommon for Brady or other players to have to line him up properly before the snap.
So should Ochocinco be concerned about his immediate future in New England? Young offers some background.
With this being the Patriots bye week, every member of the team, from coaching staff to players, will be evaluated. There will be discussions about Ochocinco, who has nine catches for 136 yards through six games.There was speculation that the Patriots were interested in Brandon Lloyd, who was traded from the Broncos to the Rams Monday. But even if Lloyd was still available, New England would be on the hook for nearly $6 million and Ochocinco's body of work suggests that sooner or later he'll emerge as a big-play target.
Part of the discussion when it comes to the 33-year old Ochocinco likely will be what the Patriots would lose if they cut ties: the team gave a fifth-round pick in 2012 as well as a sixth-rounder in 2013 to the Bengals. Ochocinco received a $4.5 million signing bonus as soon as he joined the team, and his base salary of $1 million is guaranteed because he was on the roster in Week
In the meantime, Ochocinco also provides depth behind veterans Wes Welker and Deion Branch. And unlike 2006, when Brady had no legitimate pass-catchers to speak of (Reche Caldwell was the team's leading receiver), Welker is one of the league's best wideouts, and tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski create matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.
That said, head coach Bill Belichick isn't afraid to cut bait with players who underperform, despite what they may have accomplished elsewhere, or what the Pats had to give up to get them (either through a draft pick or compensation).
For now, though, Ochocinco is still a Patriot.
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