|Ochocinco was targeted five times and had zero catches. (Getty Images)|
Posted by Ryan Wilson
We've become so accustomed to Patriots' double-digit win totals and the annual playoff appearances that we don't know quite what to make of them when they lose back-to-back games and look pretty bad in the process.
Much of the blame lies with the defense, which has been systematically dismantled by head coach Bill Belichick. But they're not the only reason for New England's recent struggles. The offense is a mess, too. Quarterback Tom Brady has looked indecisive in the pocket, which is a function of the man-to-man defenses he's suddenly facing, the endless stream of pass rushers in his face, and the lack of a true deep threat at wide receiver.
Wes Welker might be one of the NFL's best pass catchers, but he's not blowing the top off the coverage, Randy Moss-style. Which is why the Patriots traded for Chad Ochocinco before the season. We feel safe in writing that the move has yet to pay dividends. The former Bengals Pro Bowler has been slow to learn New England's offense and as a result he spends more time on the sidelines than on the field. And the rare occasions he does play usually involve some miscommunication between him and Brady.
But maybe it's not all on Ochocinco, who on Sunday against the Giants was on the field for 18 snaps and targeted on five occasions, coming up empty each time. ESPNBoston's Chris Forsberg breaks down Ochocinco's peformance and the takeaway is that Brady, who was under pressure for most of the afternoon, shares some of the responsibility, too.
Brady said as much during his weekly radio appearance on WEEI.
"We make improvements every week. It's just a matter of us ultimately getting it done in the game,” he said. "Every week there's more confidence in what we're doing with him, and with him and me. It's just a matter of us getting out there and doing it on the field. Believe me, no one's more frustrated than us. We talked after the game about what we need to do to get better. And we're just going to keep doing it. We really don't know any other way."
Late in the game, the cameras showed an animated, frustrated Brady talking to Ochocinco. Chad later to the Boston Herald that Brady was giving him a pep talk.
“Keep working, keep working,” Ochocinco said was Brady’s message. “Because we’re missing it by this much (holding two fingers close together). That’s it. That’s what he was saying, ‘Just keep working.’”
Despite the two losses, and the impending date with the Jets, perhaps things aren't as bad as they seem in Foxoboro. Worst case: if Ochocinco continues to struggle at wide receiver, Belichick can try him at cornerback.
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