Free of the tyranny that is the New England Patriots franchise, receiver Chad Ochocino appears to be back to his old act as a new member of the Miami Dolphins. But that doesn't mean his antics are any less tiring for a 34-year-old receiver who hasn't done much of anything on a football field over the last 18 months.
"Dad...I love you but I will be a problem this year," Ochocinco tweeted. "All fine money this year can be collected from @MiamiDolphins."
Ochocinco is apparently hinting at the fact that he will be scoring a number of touchdowns with the Dolphins this year, and that subsequent celebrations he does afterwards will incur the fines from Goodell, who he has often referred to as "Dad."
As a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, Ochocinco racked up several fines for elaborate (and, many times, choreographed) dances and celebrations following scores.
But after watching Ochocinco struggle so mightily in New England—a place he was supposed to thrive in—there's serious wonder as to whether or not the former Pro Bowl receiver is anything more than a washed-up veteran with a mouth who has once again been freed.
In 16 games (including playoffs) with the Patriots last season, Ochocinco caught just 16 passes for 297 yards and a score. 11 of those catches came within the Patriots' first five games, with his production falling off sharply as the season wore on.
Ochocinco was shut out in five of his last 10 regular season games, and he also never appeared in the Patriots' first two playoff wins against the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens.
Troubles learning the Patriots' playbook contributed to Ochocinco's lack of usage, and the team eventually said goodbye to the boisterous receiver this offseason.
But here's the reality of Ochocinco's situation: He hasn't been even close to a top NFL receiver since 2007, a year in which he caught 93 passes for 1,440 yards and eight scores. Since then, Ochocinco has devoted his time to everything but staying an elite receiver.
In the offseason of 2008, Johnson publicly battled the Bengals management and went as far as to demand a trade out of Cincinnati. The next season, Cincinnati started 0-8 and Ochocinco floundered to his worst statistical season of his career to date.
Ochocino then started doing reality television shows, including Dancing with the Stars and another with former Bengals teammate Terrell Owens, changed his last name from "Johnson" to "Ochocinco" and even tried out for Major League Soccer during the NFL lockout.
And there's people who wonder what happened to Ochocinco's NFL career?
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk seems to think that having the "old Chad back" will be beneficial to Ochocinco this season.
As a member of the Patriots, Chad believed he no longer could be Chad. And for Chad, the effort to be someone he wasn’t made spilled over to everything he did. His fear of saying or doing the wrong thing off the field became a fear of doing or saying the wrong thing on the field, and ultimately he became a guy who couldn’t say or do anything right.
Chad is now Chad again. Though we’re still not sure whether the last name will be Ochocinco or Johnson or something else, Chad has rediscovered the persona that he suppressed while a member of the Patriots.
I respect Florio a great deal, but I can't disagree with him more here. Suppressing Ochocinco last season was far from the problem in New England.
He couldn't get the playbook down, his sloppy routes didn't fit New England's precision offense and, at age 34, he probably lost a step or two. The Patriots needed a receiver who could play the "X" position all of 2011, but Ochocinco couldn't handle the role. There's a reason why Brandon Lloyd is a Patriot and Ochocinco is not.
Florio also says that New England's offensive approach "refuses to adapt" to one player. Wrong again. Bill Belichick adapted fine to Randy Moss. The offense changed again when Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were drafted.
In fact, the Patriots offense may be one of the most adapting offenses in the NFL in terms of changing to fit the skills of its current players.
Ochocinco simply wasn't good enough last season to inspire any adaptation.
To think any of that will change with the Dolphins this season—for no other reason than he can run his mouth again—seems laughable to me. He may get more opportunities because the Dolphins have no receivers, but Ochocinco is an aging sideshow that has gotten old quick.
In the end, I think Ochocinco can "void" out the checks he's likely pre-written to Goodell. I'm not sure he'll have the chance to make good on his promise of being a problem in 2012.