Kirby Lee/US Presswire
Raiders coach Hue Jackson.FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Maybe the most intriguing nugget to emerge from Raiders coach Hue Jackson's entertaining conference call with the New England media on Wednesday was his insight into wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. Jackson spent three seasons as wide receivers coach in Cincinnati from 2004-2006 and offered his take on the mercurial receiver's struggles to acclimate with the Patriots.
The most revealing line from Jackson: "You have to allow him to be him to get the most out of him."
For Ochocinco, it was another day of silence in the Patriots' locker room, this after turning down group interview requests both following Sunday's loss in Buffalo and again on Monday in Foxborough (the players were off on Tuesday). Ochocinco dropped a surefire fourth-quarter touchdown pass in Sunday's loss and watched another second-half offering for him get intercepted. He finished with two catches on the day and has only five catches for 87 yards for the 2011 season.
Was Ochocinco the type to get down on himself?
"I think a lot of players [get down on themselves when they struggle]," said Jackson. "When you are used to having success and things have gone the way they've gone for his career up to this point, it's hard when yo don't see the light at the end of the tunnel. But one thing I know about him, he's going to continue to work, he'll do everything that's asked of him. He's a tremendous pro. I'm sure he's working at it and eventually it'll come off right for him.
"I just don't want it to happen this week."
Jackson dubbed Ochocinco his "son" based on their time together in Cincinnati and said the two still share a bond.
"When I came to Cincinnati, he was real early in career, maybe second or third year, but he was right on the cusp of becoming a great player," said Jackson. "What I tried to do was push him, take him to where he truly wanted to go. He wanted to be one of best in the league and, in my mind, there’s no question that he was. He really worked at it. The way he studied video tape, the way he prepared.
"I let him have his own personality, because that’s Chad. You have to allow him to be him to get the most out of him. And that’s what we were able to do. We forged a bond that’s been the same since our time in Cincinnati. I always check on him -- I just haven’t checked on him much this year because we’ve been so busy, but i do have a lot of respect for the player."
It's worth noting that Ochocinco caught 279 passes for 4,075 yards and 25 touchdowns in 48 games from 2004-2006, earning half of his six Pro Bowl nods those three seasons, and was also voted a first-team All-Pro in both 2005 and 2006. Jackson was pat of maybe Ochocinco's best NFL days.
And it all goes back to his comment about having to allow Ochocinco to be himself, which makes you wonder if his acclimation to the Patriot Way is part of what's prevented him from being the player we've seen over an 11-year NFL career.