After a much ballyhooed offseason in which the Bengals seemed to shore up their receiving core with the addition of Terrell Owens and Jordan Shipley to their ranks, the Cincinnati Bengals were looking like they could repeat as AFC North champions.
Well, now that they are sitting in a not so pretty position at 2-6, and having just lost a Monday Night Football game against division rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers, many things are coming into question.
Terrell Owens and Jordan Shipley both came in and did what they were expected to do.
Owens is up to 770 yards receiving (third in the league) with an impressive 14 yards per catch, seven touchdowns and 10 plays of more than 20 yards and two of more than 40 yards. Pair that with his 208 yards after the catch on 55 receptions and 36 first downs, and it looks as if Owens is rounding back into his old form.
Shipley came in with a decent amount of hype and has lived up to it so far. He is third among rookie receivers with 396 yards and second among rookies with more than 20 catches at 14.1 yards per catch.
Shipley also has scored three times this season and has two plays of more than 40 yards.
Then there is the always eccentric Chad Ochocinco.
Chad has put up some decent numbers and is poised to cobble together another good season statistically.
His 473 yards are still good for 28th in the league, and he is on pace to put up another 900-1,100 yard season.
However, he is averaging only 11.3 yards per catch, has only two touchdowns but does have three plays of greater than 40 yards.
One very telling stat is his paltry YAC yards. Ochocinco has only 96 yards after catching the ball, and for a receiver who has made a name for himself by being slippery and piling up those YAC yards, Ochocinco has been downright bad this season.
He is averaging just 2.5 yards after each catch, down a full yard from his career average and a far cry from his 4.1 career high in 2003.
Now, with Owens and Shipley on the team this season, Ochocinco is drawing far fewer double-teams than in years past, so the only real thing that can explain this dropoff is lack of effort. As anyone who has watched the Bengals play this season, it does seem that with their win column so low, Chad has been slacking.
Another concern for Ochocinco is the number of balls thrown to him compared to the number that he has caught.
First, I must say, that Carson Palmer is nowhere near the quarterback that he was just a few years ago.
He has not been the same since his Tommy John Surgery in 2008 and has shown a lack of confidence and accuracy ever since. His completion percentage has dropped below 60 percent for the first time in his career in which he played a full season (knock on wood).
However, Ochocinco has been thrown to 76 times, catching only 40 of those balls while dropping four.
Owens has an equally high number of passes not caught (44 to Ochocinco's 36) leading me to believe that it is part the fault of Carson Palmer's accuracy and part a lack of effort.
There was a time in which Chad would go up and make a miraculous catch of an uncatchable ball at least once a game; now, he jogs the route out if he sees a pass off target.
He has put forth both a lackluster performance and is now becoming a nuisance in the clubhouse once again, like a werewolf on a full moon.
His latest infraction was a shouting match with quarterback Carson Palmer after Palmer sailed a pass over Ochocinco's head in the second quarter with the Bengals trailing 17-7.
The altercation came in the middle of a series in which the Bengals were attempting to start a comeback and threw them off for the rest of the drive, which ended in a missed field goal.
With teams taking fewer flak from prima donna receivers (just ask Randy Moss if complaining about a buffet was worth it, on a side note, who the hell complains about a free buffet? C'mon Randy!), it wouldn't be surprising to see the Bengals decline to pick up his $6 million option for next year, or even to place him on waivers in the coming weeks.
Who would have thought Terrell Owens would have been the level-headed receiver on any team in his career?
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