According to reports on the Cincinnati Bengals website, star wide receiver Chad Ochocinco was noticeably frustrated during Monday night's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The loss dropped the Bengals into last place in the AFC North and was their fifth consecutive loss.
Ochocinco is in the midst of an abysmal season, having accumulated only 473 receptions and two touchdowns through the first eight games of the season.
Making matters worse, these numbers are actually inflated by two games in which he went for double-digit receptions and over 100 yards against the Patriots and Falcons.
Some of the struggles faced by both Ochocinco and the Bengals as a whole have come as a direct result of a drop in Carson Palmer's production at the quarterback position. Palmer has not looked like the elite quarterback he once was this season, and his eight interceptions and 83.6 QB rating could certainly be at the root of the Bengals' five-game losing streak.
However, Palmer seems to have found a level of chemistry with Terrell Owens, and Owens is currently on pace to eclipse the 1,500-yard receiving mark by the end of the season. Owens is on this torrid pace even with a slow start that saw him fail to break 60 receiving yards or score a touchdown in his first three games as a Bengal.
Since starting slowly, Owens has averaged 123.6 yards per game and accumulated seven receiving touchdowns over his last five games. In fact, Owens' success has been just about the only bright spot for a team that has lost every game during that stretch.
The combination of his personal and team struggles appears to be pushing Chad Ochocinco over the edge. According to reports on the Bengals website, Ochocinco was seen arguing with Palmer on the sideline and was reprimanded by a teammate after spiking the ball out of frustration over a penalty.
Following the game, Ochocinco had a long talk with Palmer and seemed to have regained his cool, coming off as more depressed than angry in his post-game interviews.
While the Bengals appear to be back on the same page and have averted a crisis for now, the situation is still tenuous. Pairing Owens and Ochocinco was a risky move that could have produced a dominant receiving corps or a powder keg of ego and emotion.
Even if he isn't acknowledging it publicly, Owens' recent successes must be getting to Ochocinco, as the blame is no longer on Palmer for not being able to get him the ball.
There is a lot of buzz in the rumor mill that Ochocinco will be on his way out of town soon. Marvin Lewis and Carson Palmer are both coolheaded leaders who have shown a willingness to work with troubled players in the past.
While this patience may keep Ochocinco in town for a few more weeks, if he keeps struggling, he will certainly be packing his bags shortly. Last-place teams don't need two theatrical wide receivers, and when their production is as different as Ochocinco's and Owens' have been, there is really no reason to keep Ochocinco around.
At this point it appears to be up to Ochocinco whether he stays or goes this season. If he keeps his mouth shut and produces, then there will be no issues, but if he keeps having selfish outbursts mid-game, then the Bengals will have no reason to retain an overpriced headache.