Patriots

Ochocinco shows he's got a long way to go

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Ochocinco shows he's got a long way to go

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran

TAMPA BAY That Chad Ochocinco scored a touchdown Thursday night on his first reception as a Patriots shouldnt cloud the fact that hes a long way from being a trusted piece of this offense. It will cloud it, though. Youll see the 8-yard reception replayed a few dozen times over the next week. The insinuation will be that this was just the first of many touchdowns in what will be a blissful marriage. Fact is, you and I both could have made that touchdown catch because of the way Tampas defense sucked up when they saw a play-action fake to BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Ocho was all alone. But on the three other throws that targeted the celebrated wideout in a Patriots rout, Ocho and Tom Brady had a miscommunication, Ocho leaped and got clobbered on a deep in-cut and he caught a slant. He got hauled off the field by Bill Belichick on the Patriots first drive, apparently for not getting downfield on a 29-yard run by Danny Woodhead. And he spent a good chunk of one drive watching with receivers coach Chad OShea from the sidelines. Its like a machine out there and Im that one part thats not up with anybody else, Ocho admitted. I got a long way to go, personally.The Patriot offense ran roughshod over Tampa Bay, but there were more than enough missteps to leave Tom Brady shaking his head over the rust that still needs to be knocked off. We expect to go out there and score, Brady said when asked if this was his best performance. We had six drives, four of them ended in touchdowns . . . There was some good, there was plenty of bad. Im sure Ill see the film tomorrow and be disappointed with some of the things that I wish I could have done better. I think theres a lot of things we need to do better out there. A lot of things I need to do better. Too many things where we need to do a better job. We missed a lot of time, Brady explained. "Thats the reality of whats happened this offseason. We missed a lot of time. Six months we couldnt really do what we wanted football-wise. A lot of it is trying to continue to talk and communicate.In an offense like New Englands, where there is so much reading and reacting on the fly after the snap, precision is job one. And the precision between the games best quarterback and a player as decorated and productive as Ocho doesnt just appear. Its a hard sport, man, said Brady. Theres nothing easy about it. Dropping back and finding the right guy to throw to and those guys running the right route and the right depth at the right time, theres a lot of work that needs to be put into it. Its not something that you just magically, Hey, lets talk about it and now were good at it! You gotta put the work in, you gotta practice, you gotta make the mistakes so you can make the corrections. Thats what were trying to do.The tempo the Patriots offense operates at is rare. As Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy explained, Rookie defensive end Adrian Clayborn came to me and was like, Oh my god, it was so fast! I said, I know! Thats what Ive been trying to tell you! It was a reality check, we needed that. They came out, theyd turn around huddle, snap, oh, 'Theres the Mike, go!' I was like, Dang! Um, Mr. Brady, can we line up? He didnt care. He was like, Youre not going to line up. When we turned around one time I checked back around and my hand was going to the grass and they were like, Hut! And I said, Noooooooooooo! Despite all his years in the game, its a very different situation for Ochocinco to be the one whos confused. I have to get to the game tempo, he lamented. Im behind the 8-ball tremendously. This is different from practice, being in the game. Its a start, I got a feel for it. Its like being married. As time goes on you get comfortable and gel and I want to hurry up and get that feeling so I can be me. I gotta get there now. Shoulda been there yesterday.Ocho is going to be demanding. He knows theres focus on him, focus that he helped bring because of who he is. I need them to stay in my ear constantly, especially during the preseason, he declared. The more I hear, the more I can absorb and become a sponge. The more relaxed I am, the better I play.Bradys fine with that, he said. When were in the game, when were out of the game on the practice field, in the meeting room . . . were always communicating so that when it does come to game time everyone is really confident in one another and when it comes to game time, youre really confident in him, he explained. The confidence Ocho normally has in himself isnt there yet. Nor is Bradys confidence in Ocho. It remains very much a work in progress. And the clock is ticking. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Tom Brady on pace for huge numbers, so why is he down on his play of late?

Tom Brady on pace for huge numbers, so why is he down on his play of late?

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady is on pace for 5,224 yards passing in 2017, just a shade under his total from his career-high in 2011. He's on track to have 34 touchdowns and just five picks. Barring a continued run of ridiculous efficiency from Kansas City's Alex Smith, those numbers would be MVP-caliber in all likelihood.

But Brady's not thrilled with the way he's played of late. What gives? 

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In his past two games, he hasn't thrown the football as consistently as he would have liked. After starting the season with a 10-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio, he's 3-to-2 in the last couple of weeks. His accuracy has been at times pinpoint (as it was on his 42-yard completion to Brandin Cooks to help set up a Rob Gronkowski score against the Jets), but it has also been uncharacteristically erratic.

He was picked deep down the middle of the field by Buster Skrine last week, but the more concerning throw may have been the quick out-route to Gronkowski that Skrine dropped for what should have been an easy interception. Brady missed Phillip Dorsett on what looked like it could have been a long touchdown with Dorsett running free behind the defense. He threw behind Chris Hogan twice in the game, one of which opened up Hogan to a rib-shot that landed him on the injury report this week.

Against the Jets, Brady was not sacked and he was hit only four times -- a light day for him compared to other weeks this season when he's been battered. Yet he still completed just under 53 percent of his passes for 257 yards and a season-low 6.76 yards per attempt. 

"Well, I've got to hit the open . . . If the throws are there I've got to be able to make them," he said on Friday. "It's disappointing when I don't. To me, it just comes back to technique and fundamentals and making sure everything is working and that's the consistent daily thing that you're working on. I'm always working on my accuracy.

"I wish I hit them all. I'm capable of hitting them all and I need to be able to do that. I said last week that some of these games wouldn't be as close if I was playing better in the red area. I think some of those missed opportunities in the pass game with me hitting guys would really help our team. Hopefully, I can do a better job for this team."

Brady is no longer listed on the Patriots injury report, but he dealt with a left shoulder injury against both the Bucs and the Jets, and it's worth wondering if that somehow impacted how his passes traveled in those games. Balance is key in Brady's world, and even though he can make flat-footed throws look easy, perhaps an injury to his front side limited his ability to place the ball where he wanted. 

Keeping Brady upright could go a long way in helping the 40-year-old regain his form from Weeks 2-4 when he didn't dip below a 104 quarterback rating. Bill Belichick said earlier this week that part of the reason the Jets pass-rush wasn't quite as effective as others they'd faced this year was his team's ability to run the ball. Productive rushing attempts on first and second down mean manageable third downs, which mean shorter pass attempts. Those of course, in theory, lead to less time standing in the pocket and a healthier quarterback.

"It's great," Brady said of his team's recent surge running the football. "I mean, to be able to run the ball consistently in the NFL is important for every offense. It does take a lot of . . . I wouldn't say pressure, it's just production. If 400 yards of offense is what you're looking for and you can get 150 from your running game, the 250 has got to come in the passing game. If you're getting 50 yards in the rushing game then it means you've got to throw for more.

"I don't think it's pressure it's just overall you're going to get production in different areas and the backs are a big part of our offense and handing the ball off to them is an easy way for us to gain yards if we're all coordinated and doing the right thing. But those guys are running hard. The line is doing a great job up front finishing blocks and so forth."

Against the Falcons and their talented -- though underperforming -- offense this weekend, the running game could be key. First, it could help the Patriots defense by controlling possession and keeping Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman off the field. Next are the obvious advantages for the signal-caller who could use a stress-free day in the pocket to help him solve his recent accuracy issues. 

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