The biggest news of the day swirled around the New England Patriots. It began with the news of the Patriots trading for Albert Haynesworth for a fifth-round draft pick and closed with the news of the Patriots receiving Chad Ochocinco (and his restructured contract) for two draft picks.
Both players are talented and bring a ton of potential to the Patriots. Haynesworth could certainly be a defensive force if he plays to his enormous potential. Under the guidance of Tom Brady, Ochocinco may focus more on his on-the-field performances rather than his extracurricular activities.
So the question is, will either of them stay focused enough to make an impact in New England? The short answer is yes, but the long answer is neither will truly have the impact that today's news is garnering.
Starting with Haynesworth, initial thoughts are that he will want to prove teams wrong that he is not the malcontent that he is perceived to be. That will wear quickly. As Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com pointed out, the Patriots are a base 3-4 defensive team, but only play that scheme about "40 percent of the time."
Haynesworth's biggest gripe in Washington was that he wasn't utilized properly. He felt he is better when off center. He's right. He is not a true run-stuffer. For a guy his size, he is remarkably agile. He can get to the quarterback, which is something the Patriots sorely need.
Then there are the concerns about his conditioning and work habits. The litany of issues he and Mike Shanahan had are too long to list, but it seems that Haynesworth felt his talent didn't warrant working hard. It's a totally unacceptable attitude to have.
Bill Belichick, much like Mike Shanahan, is a no-nonsense kind of guy. The problem with the Washington Redskins is that the locker room was not strong enough to control a personality like Haynesworth, whereas the Patriots believe they can.
The Patriots might be wrong about that. Sure they have Tom Brady, Wes Welker and Deion Branch on offense and Vince Wilfork on defense, but the rest of the team is relatively young and none of them jump out as strong vocal leaders. The Patriots already have one knucklehead on defense in Brandon Meriweather, and now they have Haynesworth.
Haynesworth will initially come to work and do the right things, but much like Randy Moss, things will eventually break down. When Moss left last season, it wasn't a personality thing; it was a money thing. But when players like this have some type of gripe, it always ends badly. This inevitably will, but Patriots fans should rejoice in the window they have with Haynesworth while he is on his best behavior.
Ochocinco is a whole other story. The man who never met a camera he didn't like is in for a true culture shock. Football is first and may be the only thing in Belichick's eyes. No more talk of playing soccer, Dancing with the Stars or starting the OCNN. No longer will tweeting be the accepted form of communication for the star wide receiver.
Ochocinco might see the end of his career coming sooner than later and may want a ring after all. Ochocinco has turned above-average talent into a legitimate superstar career. He had a strong stretch of five years, from 2003 to 2007, where he was a true elite receiver. Much of this can be attributed to Carson Palmer.
Tom Brady is certainly a better quarterback than Carson Palmer and with Wes Welker and the Patriots' young tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, Ochocinco should see more time in the field where he is open.
With 11 seasons under his belt, Ochocinco cannot expect to put up huge numbers for long. There are two quarterbacks in the league who can make receivers looks much better than they are: Brady and Peyton Manning. There will be a production bump just based on being in New England, but the window for high production will be short.
The thing that makes Ochocinco the better pickup is that he understands that coming to New England means focusing on football. Ochocinco restructured his contract to be a Patriot, meaning he was willing to take a pay cut to be there. Haynesworth did not.
Ochocinco has his fun in the offseason and we all laugh and look at the spectacle that he is because, after all, sports is just entertainment. Ochocinco likely got his fun out of his system, though. All the bull riding and race car driving is out of his system. Playing for the Patriots is not like being a Cincinnati Bengal.
Being a Patriot means something. Ochocinco gets it. Hopefully, his name gets legally changed back to Johnson so that he can go back to being the professional of 2003 through 2007, rather than the entertainer of 2008 to 2010.
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