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.

Belichick on Long's sack: One of the best defensive plays of the year

Belichick on Long's sack: One of the best defensive plays of the year

It came against a rookie quarterback. It came against an offense that averages a league-worst 15.0 points per game. It came against an offense that has fewer yards than any other. 

Still there are signs that Bill Belichick is pretty pleased with where his defense is after beating the Rams 26-10 on Sunday. One came on Wednesday when Patriots.com published its "Belichick Breakdown" for a closer look at a handful of plays from the team's most recent win.

Belichick called his team's third-and-eight stop with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter "probably one of the best good, team defensive plays we've had all year."

The Patriots show a five-man front, but linebacker Kyle Van Noy feigns a rush only to drop into coverage.

"Van Noy in here does a good job on the rush," Belichick said, "and also on the coverage on the back. Just good team defense. Good pass coverage down the field. The quarterback really doesn't end up having a lot of time, but there's no one to throw it to right away."

Belichick noted that all four rushers -- Chris Long, Trey Flowers, Dont'a Hightower and Rob Ninkovich -- all are able to pressure Jared Goff on the play. Combined with strong coverage in the secondary, the Rams nver really had a chance.

Belichick said it looked like a "tidal wave" of defenders bearing down on the quarterback.

"Long wins here . . . on the inside spin," Belichick said, "and Trey Flowers and Hightower both win on the little twist game inside. Then that's Rob with good speed-to-power on [Rams tackle Rob] Havenstein on the outside. Four good rushers. Plus a fifth guy...Van Noy getting that two-for-one on the guard and the back.

"Good team defense. That's great to see. A lot of hard work an execution on the practice field to make that happen."

Harbaugh on Belichick: 'I feel like we have a good relationship'

Harbaugh on Belichick: 'I feel like we have a good relationship'

FOXBORO -- They sounded like a couple of old pals. 

First it was Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who spoke of Ravens coach John Harbaugh during a conference call like one of his favorite fellow lacrosse dads.

"John and I saw a game a couple of years ago, a [Johns] Hopkins vs. Maryland game," Belichick said, adding that Harbaugh's love for the sport is just starting to blossom. "Yeah, I think John is seeing the light."

Belichick added that the two might be closer if they weren't competing so often, both in-season on the field and for free agents in the offseason. 

"As you know, we get into a situation like we’re in now where they have a good team, we have a good team, we’re playing a big game on Monday night," Belichick said. "Both teams are going to do everything they can to compete as hard as they can on Monday night. That’s what it is and that’s what we all signed up for. We all know that’s a part of it.

"When we’re not going head-to-head, which isn’t very often because we compete against each other in the offseason, we compete against each other to build our team and so forth, it just puts things in a little bit of a different situation."

During his press conference with reporters on Wednesday, Harbaugh echoed Belichick's sentiments. Belichick was famously one of Harbaugh's biggest supporters earlier in his career, calling the Ravens on Harbaugh's behalf when the franchise was looking for a new head coach. And if only they weren't so frequently competing against each other, they might be even closer, Harbaugh indicated. 

"I feel like we have a good relationship," Harbaugh said. "Like you said, we're probably not socializing that much, but I don't know how many coaches really do. We're all so busy. I'll see him or any coach at the Combine or at the owner's meetings, and we have a chance to talk. It's always good. I have a ton of respect for him. I really like him as a person. I think he's a great coach -- greatest coach of this generation. He's earned that title.

"And I study him. I've always studied him. I've always studied coach Belichick from when I first met him when I was an assistant at the University of Cincinnati, and he came in and just was great to be around.  [We have a] similar background with the special teams and that sort of thing. All of that kind of goes out the window when you compete against one another. It's like anything else, you want to win. I'm sure he feels the same way."

The recent history between their respective franchises is rife with emotion: There was Baltimore's irate reaction to Belichick's unusual formations in the AFC Divisional Round two seasons ago; there was the Ravens' supposed involvement in sparking Deflategate; and there was Harbaugh's subsequent denial. But Belichick and Harbaugh made it sound on Wednesday as if all's good between them.