When Chad Ochocinco was traded to the New England Patriots about a year ago, some scratched their heads at why the Pats would do so. But me, and many others, thought it was a brilliant move. Adding a guy like Ocho, who has big time playmaking ability, was something that Tom Brady had lacked in the receiving game since Randy Moss had worn out his welcome in New England.
Turns out, I was quite wrong.
I remember when Randy Moss went to New England and people thought he would be cut before the end of training camp because of his attitude clashing with head coach Bill Belichick. But Moss went on to not only excel during his years with the organization, but he set team records and even topped Jerry Rice’s single-season record for touchdown receptions with finding the end zone a ridiculous 23 times. Surely, if Moss could do it, Ocho would do well there.
As it turns out, Chad was barely even a blip on the radar in New England. He ended his single season up north with a disappointing 15 total receptions for 276 yards and a single touchdown. Not quite what fantasy owners were expecting when they took Ocho in the middle rounds.
The biggest reason for his sharp decline last season was cited as he simply didn’t learn a complicated playbook in New England and simply got lost in the shuffle. There were never any reports of him being a malcontent or stirring up any problems while there, just that he did not fit in. But has the sun set on the fine NFL career of Chad Ochocinco? It has for his legal last name, at least.
Since changing his name from Chad Johnson to Chad Ochocinco, he has averaged 10 games started per season, with 674 yards, 52 receptions and four touchdowns per year over the four season stretch. Prior to the name change, Chad Johnson averaged 14 games started, 1,195 receiving yards, 80 catches and seven touchdowns per year over a seven season sample. In hoping to regain some of his former success, Ocho officially changed his name back to Chad Johnson, legally, this morning.
As a free agent, Johnson moved to Miami to play for the Dolphins in 2012 and they certainly hope to be getting the more productive Chad out of the above mentioned statistics. With a transition of some sort taking place at quarterback, he’ll have his work cut out for him. Be it Matt Moore, who played well while filling in last season for the injured Chad Henne, or rookie Ryan Tannehill, whom Miami selected 8th overall in this years draft, it could be a tumultuous transition. And I didn’t even mention the favorite to land the job; David Garrard, who missed all of 2011 with back problems.
Can Chad Johnson make it back to the play that has earned him six pro bowl bids and three all pro honors? That remains to be seen. At 34 years of age, the odds are stacked against him. You can be the best at what you do, but it’s tough to beat out father time.
And with HBO Hard Knocks in camp this year, it’ll be hard for Johnson to maintain his focus at reclaiming elite wide receiver status. But crazier things have happened, as they always seem to when eighty-five is involved.