The Chad Johnson experiment has not worked thus far for many reasons but the one thing I look at might be largely overlooked by everyone, probably for a reason, but anyway it’s still on my list and close to the top if not the number one thing. Coming into the season I did not think that we needed WR help really at all. Also when talent is acquired from another team you often hear the phrase “can he adjust to not being the guy, the man.“ However I think that the other element of that statement, not said, is that not only do the players have to make this adjustment but also the fans must make this adjustment as well. Okay, anyway, back to my main point. You look at the depth chart we had coming into this season and we had this:
We also had two young Tight Ends who we just drafted who had GREAT first seasons in:
So I am not even taking into account the RB’s we had who could catch out of the back field, so explain to me why we needed a WR? I see it this way and call me crazy, dead wrong or an idiot on the topic of football I’m okay with that. You are going to have 4 main guys pretty much who are targeted most of the time, or at least on the top of the depth chart for receivers (counting TE’s) and Welker, Hernandez and Gronkowski were always in the top 3 of that list so that leaves you with one real spot for someone who will see a good amount of playing time and everyone else below number 4 are parts that will be in the games sparingly at the most. So I always assumed that the spot would be Branch’s to lose basically and I didn’t see Tate or Price really winning it from him. You can say that the Patriots needed a 3rd WR and I will rebuttal that Hernandez is that player. When I heard of the trade with the Bengals to bring in Chad Johnson I was so happy but I still understood that he still needed to beat out Branch for the last of the significant playing time. Either Chad or Deion was going to be living on the bench for most of the games since the title of 3rd WR really doesn’t mean that it is a WR that holds that label. If I had to tell you what the depth chart for receiver is including TE’s it’d look something like this and it has nothing to do with how they line up on the field but rather value and the order in which Brady will look when on the field.
So to people saying that Chad is the 3rd WR they are looking at it differently than I am, I see him as the 5th now and he is playing like he is the 5th. Has he been disappointing and making some bad mistakes that someone of his caliber shouldn’t? Absolutely. Is he close to being labeled a bust as a Patriot? Definitely. Is he washed up and a has-been? No. The plays that the Patriots call just simply need the top 4 main players and he is not one of them now. I think that Chad is at a fork in the road and he could go one of two ways. One way is he does great in practice, better than any other week, and cracks the top 4 or he will remain the 5th guy and catch just about 40 catches. Also Chad I think is great in the red zone and has not been used much or at all in red zone situations, which I find weird. Based on this analysis if the Patriots wanted to get rid of Chad they can and it wouldn’t impact the offense very much at all because he was not high enough on the chart to make that impact. I don’t blame Chad for his ineffectiveness in this system at all nor do I place any sort of blame on Bill either it was just going to happen because of how good the two young tight ends have become and the exceptional hands of Welker and the trust/familiarity Brady has with Branch from years past and that’s it. I do think though that he can he valuable in the future, especially playoffs if/when he can ever show that he can/has learned this system.
You can not compare him to another WR in another system really, I mean you can but I don’t think it’s a fair assessment. Teams have different schemes, different situations and different loyalties by the starting QB and that is why when someone claims or points out that WR (enter name here) has more catches than Chad and is an undrafted free agent. Okay, so what is the situation on that team? What is “the list” of that QB? Is the coaching staff putting more time in this rookie because they see something in him? Also saying that we should have Randy Moss back and that would be an improvement, well would it? Randy Moss was here in different circumstances, no young TE’s, Welker was still proving himself, so Moss was the 1st guy on Brady’s list than Welker. If Moss is back? Well he’d probably be getting just about as much time/looks/reps as Chad or Branch. Remember what happened when Randy was here and the young TE’s started catching on and Brady was looking at Welker and them more than Randy? Yeah me too and he went to the Vikings and the rest is history.
Believe me or not, look at this like me or think I’m a complete idiot but I still think that the opportunity is still available for Chad to explode and end up with a decent season but with that being said I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Chad was a bust here. I don’t blame him, I don’t blame Bill or Tom or even the offensive scheme… just a perfect storm really with the lock out cutting into the off-season, Chad basically having to learn football all over again due to the differences in the systems, the “Patriot Way” weighing on him, filling Moss’s shoes in fans’ eyes and living up to the productive seasons he had in Cincy. Other players and teams are kind of having the same problem, Derrick Mason who was just traded by the Jets to the Texans, the Eagles roster, McNabb and the Vikings situation and some others I’m sure just elude me now so Chad… you’re not alone… technically. So Chad Ochocinco Johnson Riviera Snickers bar whatever you are calling yourself, play smart like we know you can, don’t be afraid of being you and just do what you do best on the field because I think that some Patriot fans still believe in you, I do anyway.
- Patriots back Ochocinco despite his slow start (espn.go.com)
- Hernandez on Brady: ‘Anything can happen’ (boston.com)