Last year, Chad Ochocinco had a disappointing season, and that's putting it mildly. Ochocinco had a mere 15 catches for 276 yards and only one TD with New England last season (per ESPN). Ochocinco just couldn't find his way in the powerful New England offense, which could help explain his poor numbers.
Now though, Ochocinco is a Miami Dolphin, and his prospects of returning to his past level of performance look much better now that he's in a turquoise uniform. Ochocinco could absolutely see a return to his previous success in South Beach.
When Ochocinco was playing in New England last season, he didn't see the field nearly as much as he will this year with Miami. Chad was an afterthought at best last year, as he was the fifth option in the offense behind Welker, Gronk, Hernandez, and Deion Branch. In most of their offensive sets, Ochocinco was the odd man out, and his numbers reflected that.
In Miami, Chad will be involved much, much more than he was with the Patriots. He'll be on the field on almost every snap, and with the departure of Brandon Marshall to Chicago, he could very well end up being the top target for whoever winds up starting at QB for Miami. He'll also be given more opportunities to stretch the field with the 'Fins, something he couldn't do in New England.
Simply put, more playing time goes hand-in-hand with more production. So, given this equation, there's no way Ochocinco doesn't significantly improve his production this season.
In the past, Ochocinco has been known as a guy who would provide a lot of off the field distractions and wouldn't be totally focused on football. Ochocinco is a colorful character, which is why a lot of fans like him, but it isn't always the best recipe for being a great NFL receiver.
With the Dolphins, Ochocinco finally appears to have the right attitude on and off the field, and is finally focused. He has stability in his personal life, and he's been subdued in training camp and hasn't pulled any antics (yet). According to ESPN, Ochocinco only spoke for 1 minute, 43 seconds last week with the media, and made a "quiet" debut with the Dolphins.
That is exactly what Ochocinco needs to be doing. He's not a young guy anymore, and it appears he may have finally grown up. If he can stay humble and low-key and have the attitude that he's going to fly under the radar and only focus on football, he could be in for a big year. Anytime you have a lack of distractions as an athlete, it's a very good thing.
A major reason for Ochocinco's "decline" last season was that he struggled to get on the same page as his fellow Patriots on offense. According to ProFootballTalk, Chad just couldn't grasp the Patriots system or understand the playbook. He had difficulty comprehending the complex option routes that the Patriots love to run.
Honestly, it probably wasn't a very good fit for Ochocinco to be in New England, he just wasn't right for their system. And with the lockout shortened season, he never really had a chance to learn the playbook the way that he should have.
But now with Miami, Ochocinco will fit perfectly into Joe Philbin's offensive style of play. It's a lot simpler than New England's system, which benefits Ochocinco tremendously. His lack of production last year was more of a mental issue, as he looks like he still physically has "it". If he gets a good hold of the playbook, which he should, watch out for Chad in 2012.
I'm surprised that I was unaware of this until a few minutes ago, but Ochocinco was born and raised in Miami and attended Miami Beach High School. While he didn't stay there for college, Ochocinco is coming home for the 2012 season and will be comfortable knowing that he's finally arrived at home and can play out the remainder of his career where he grew up.
As stated earlier, Ochocinco struggled in 2012 more due to mental and emotional issues than physical ones. Playing at home could be instrumental for him to have success this upcoming season. When athletes feel uncomfortable, like he was last year, it's difficult for them to perform.
When they are at ease and feel at home, they play at a much higher level. Chad's come home, and that should help him a ton for the 2012 season.
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