Throughout the years, I've been an avid supporter of Chad Ochocinco when the world was cursing him for being the most flamboyant and boisterous wide receiver in the NFL. He produced. And you can forgive such antics when someone is producing. His celebrations cracked me up, amid the hysteria that the team just scored a touchdown. His production warranted give and take from the fans and media to let him have fun while hauling in 70-yard touchdown receptions. Between 2005 and 2006, Chad caught 32 passes of 20 yards or more and 15 passes of 40 yards or more. Between 2003 and 2007, Chad's 35 receiving touchdowns led the team and ranked amongst the league leaders. We even wrote a week ago the good times that we had together.
But as we saw on Monday night, summarizing Chad's role and production throughout the season, it's time for Chad Ochocinco and the Cincinnati Bengals to move on.
With 4:11 left in the third quarter, Chad Ochocinco was shutout. It's not like Cincinnati wasn't including him in the offense. He was targeted seven times in the game, dropped a critical third down pass just before a blocked punt and selfishly spiked the football just as he caught his first pass that was nullified due to a holding penalty.
Rather than contributing to the team's success in a modest way, without showing up his teammates, Ochocinco came across as an aging and bitter receiver with nothing left in Cincinnati, aside from a flourishing friendship with the team's best receiver in Terrell Owens. Carson Palmer completes a second down pass to Chad with 4:11 left in the third quarter, converting a first down. Either showing frustration, or charged up with the awesome first down conversion for the team to stay in the game, Chad spiked the football earning him a delay of game penalty. Thankfully for Chad, the penalty was declined after Andre Smith's holding, which eventually forced Cincinnati to punt.
Early in the fourth quarter during Cincinnati's awesome one-yard touchdown drive (thanks to the Pittsburgh Steelers' 35 yards in penalties), Carson Palmer attempted a pass over the middle to Chad Ochocinco. Chad stretched out his hands after the incompletion showing his frustration. We're not sure if he's frustrated because he's not good enough to rely on his talents like he used to, or if Palmer just plain threw terribly. It became such a problem that Chad was arguing with Palmer in the huddle, and Andrew Whitworth eventually stepped in and demanded Chad get into position. Chad was eventually benched for Andre Caldwell. Marvin Lewis was asked about it after the game.
“Yeah, he was upset, but we’ve got to play football. If he’s not going to get it done right, he’s got to come take an opportunity to freshen up his mind and get right back in the game. It was good that he got out of the game so he could concentrate and get his job done. When you’re playing that position, you can’t dictate when the ball comes to you. The coverage is going to dictate it, and the quarterback isn’t going to throw the ball in the coverage, and sometimes it’s frustrating.”
Chad would go on catch his first reception of the game with 44 seconds remaining in the game, picking up 15 yards to give Cincinnati a manageable third down with five yards to go. Palmer would throw an incomplete to Terrell Owens over the middle in the endzone and his fourth down pass was dropped by Jordan Shipley after a combined hit between James Harrison and Ike Taylor.
And it's not like this suddenly dawning on us. We've seen the eventual breakdown, dating back to his character suicide campaign several offseasons ago demanding a trade that few teams even entertained. His route running has noticeably decreased. Working eight years with the same quarterback in the same offensive system, you'd think that the timing and synchronization between quarterback and receiver would improve -- or at least remain the same -- rather than degrading over the past two years. Yes, he's double teamed a lot. But great, even just good, receivers beat double teams. Obviously this team has more areas to suggest that they should move on, and we'll examine those as the year continues. But nothing showcased this exhausted core of players than Chad's example on Monday Night.
Is it time for the Bengals to sever ties with Chad Ochocinco?