Friday, July 29, 2011
Storylines to consider with Ochocinco
By Jeremy Lundblad
How will Ochocinco fit?
Chad Ochocinco's role in the Patriots' offense remains unclear. His size is certainly welcome. At 6-foot-1, he stands tall over Wes Welker and Deion Branch, both of whom are listed at 5-foot-9.
Ochocinco certainly left a favorable impression in his last trip to Foxboro, the 2010 season opener. He hauled in 12 receptions for 159 yards. That's the second-most receiving yards against the Patriots in the past 10 seasons, and the most since Donnie Avery's 163-yard game in 2008.
However, the rest of Ochocinco's 2010 campaign was less successful. In his remaining 13 games, he averaged just 51.7 receiving yards per game.
Ochocinco is not the deep threat that he once was. This past season, his average reception was made 9.5 yards from scrimmage, the same as Branch according to STATS LLC. However, that was the lowest yards-at-catch average in Ochocinco's career. In 2009, he averaged 11.2 yards at catch. Earlier in his career (2002) that number was as high at 13.7.
Last season, 29 of his 67 receptions were thrown 10 yards or more, according to STATS. At 43.3 percent, that's a significant drop from 52.8 percent in 2009.
Though his speed has diminished with age, Ochocinco will still be relied on to stretch the field thanks to his meticulous route-running.
Traditionally, Ochocinco has done most of his damage on the left side of the field. According to STATS LLC, 28 of his 66 career touchdown receptions were to the left sideline, compared to just 14 on the right sideline.
Ochocinco has put together some lofty numbers in his career, all while only wearing a Cincinnati Bengals uniform.
With 10,783 career receiving yards, he currently has the sixth-most for a receiver that only played for one team. Only Marvin Harrison, Steve Largent, Michael Irvin, Hines Ward and Rod Smith had more without suiting up for a second team.
Although he will fall off that list by suiting up for the Patriots, there's another list that's probably more on Ochocinco's mind.
Despite his impressive career numbers, Ochocinco has never won a playoff game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he has the third-most career receiving yards for a player that's never won a postseason game. Only Tony Gonzalez (12,463) and Joey Galloway (10,950) have had more.
Without a doubt, Ochocinco hopes to end that playoff drought as he heads to New England.
The Patriots and 85
First, a brief Spanish lesson (from someone who has never had one). When Chad Johnson changed his name to Chad Ochocinco in 2008, he created some extra work for Spanish teachers across the country. Ochocinco translates to eight-five, not eighty-five. That would be ochenta y cinco. Moving on
No matter how you say it, 85 is now the most notorious number on the Patriots. Tom Brady will always be remembered as number 12, but he's come up short in the name department. Even non-football fans can tell you what number Ochocinco wears. That is, if he gets it.
Aaron Hernandez currently wears No. 85, a situation sure to lead to some interesting negotiations in coming days.
But assuming Ochocinco gets his number, his name alone will commandeer the history of those who wore it before him. So let's take a quick look back at the history of 85 with the Patriots.
A quick scan of the all-time roster finds 20 players to wear No. 85. Of those, 13 have played tight end like Hernandez. That group ranges from the memorable (John Burke, Marv Cook, Jermaine Wiggins) to players just passing through (Tyson DeVree, Todd Frain).
Years ago, a few defensive players wore No. 85, including a pair who made a big mark in franchise history. Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti wore No. 85 for his entire career, the first seven years of which were with the Patriots. Then came Julius Adams, who wore No. 85 for 14 of his 16 seasons with the Patriots. Only Bruce Armstrong has played more games in franchise history.
A name alone won't erase the memory of what Buoniconti and Adams did while wearing No. 85.
Among wide receivers, Ochocinco's company isn't quite as lofty. Doug Gabriel, Sean Morey and J.J. Stokes all wore No. 85 while in New England. The three combined for 27 receptions in Boston, with Gabriel's disappointing tenure accounting for 25 of those.
Jeremy Lundblad is a researcher with ESPN Stats & Information. He provides statistical analysis for ESPNBoston.com.