What lead Chad Ochocinco’s miserable 2011 in his only season in a Patriots uniform? If you ask the man himself, he’ll tell you it was his failure to grasp New England’s complex offensive scheme.
“The guy did all but admit that it was a struggle for him mentally, the playbook, all that stuff,” the source told Bedard. “He didn’t deny that it was a problem for him, learning it up there.”
There are 32 teams in the NFL. Obviously, all teams do not have the same playbook. But what makes the Patriots way of doing things so difficult to grasp?
Yahoo Sports’ Doug Farrar did a spectacular job delving into the matter:
“At times, there are four decisions that a receiver needs to make after the snap the way our offense is. That’s one of the advantages of our offense, that we give players a lot of flexibility within the system to take what the defense gives us. And that’s definitely something that’s unique about our offense.”
O’Shea wasn’t kidding. In one Patriots playbook I’ve seen (the 2004 version), there were 25 different single receiver routes, and that doesn’t count all the available options. Nor does it cover where those routes are run in a split on the field, or how the receivers run routes in tandem. There were 17 different two-man route combos in the playbook I saw, and five different three-man route combos. Once you’ve mastered all that stuff, there’s then the matter of the call in any pass play — the name of the route group that a team decides on any pass play for anywhere from one to five receivers. Add in the protection at the line, and you have the start of what will be an eventual Patriots play call.
When Chad Ochocinco was traded to the Patriots, he came from a system that didn’t have a lot of receiver adaptations, and wasn’t able to benefit from a full preseason, his fate was probably sealed before he even started with an offense this regimented, complex and precise.
And there you have it. Ochocinco was done in by his own inability to adapt to a scheme much more complex than any he had ever been involved with. The options and variations within the Patriot offense, and the confidence that is built between Tom Brady and his receiving corps is what makes them one of the more dangerous passing attacks in the NFL. When a receiver in unable to grasp the concepts, it is impossible for him to make a connection with Brady. This is what ultimately lead to Ochocinco’s release.