Ochocinco is still learning Patriots' offense
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Chad Ochocinco wants to get that look from Tom Brady, that quick glance down the line of scrimmage from quarterback to receiver that sends silent instructions.
It's a look that comes with experience together, with Brady's confidence that Ochocinco will figure out — and follow — those instructions.
"That look," said Ochocinco, a Patriot for just five weeks, "that look, man, is special and I've seen him do it a couple of times before I was even here. You know, that's a deadly combination. It's a great weapon to have to not give the defense any hint of what's going on."
That connection takes time to develop. The most important work is done in practice.
So Brady and Ochocinco may not get to use it, if they play at all, in New England's final exhibition game Thursday against the New York Giants. But Ochocinco isn't frustrated that he's caught just two passes during the preseason.
"Frustration's a waste of time," he said. "It's a waste of energy."
Ochocinco spent the past 10 years with the Cincinnati Bengals, his only NFL team before being traded July 28. He's confident he'll surprise people who thought the learning process would drag on and hold him back during the regular season.
"I'll be there a lot faster than when I'm supposed to be, especially with as much verbiage as I've had to learn in such a short period of time," he said. "The transition has been extremely good."
Brady, an expert at the offense he's led since 2001, seems pleased with his new, flashy receiver.
"We communicate quite a bit," Brady said. "That's what it takes. He hasn't had the luxury of an offseason program that a lot of guys get and so we're trying to really cram a lot of stuff in, but he's very receptive to it. He's very competitive. He wants to do the right thing."
The routes that receivers run for New England and Cincinnati are similar, but the offensive communication is different, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
"I can't really speak in specifics because I wasn't in Cincinnati," he said, "but it really doesn't matter. Every player that has come onto this team has come on from a different system, so they have had to learn it and adapt to it, whether they're rookies or veterans. Nobody is born here. They all come here from somewhere, so they have to learn it."
On a scale of 1 to 10, Ochocinco said he's at about a 7 on simply reacting without thinking where to run.
"I'm able to go out right now and react as soon as I hear Tommy call something," he said, "but I'm still not set in that comfort zone to where I can just be me. ... Let's be realistic. This is the highest levels of football and this is not easy."
The Patriots (2-1) are coming off a 34-10 loss at Detroit last Saturday night after dominating their first two exhibition opponents, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Giants (1-2) had just two days between Monday night's 17-3 loss to the New York Jets — delayed two days because of Hurricane Irene — and Thursday night's game.
Ochocinco's knowledge of the Patriots' offense keeps getting better with a teacher as demanding as Brady.
"I ask him to be," Ochocinco said. "Tom is on the field. He sees the field the way I do. My eyes have to be his eyes and my ears have to be his ears, and the faster Tom and I get on that same page the smoother it's going to go, man. It's like a married couple."
The marriage between the all-business Patriots led by the no-nonsense Belichick and the fun-loving Ochocinco, with his colorful comments, seems like an odd coupling.
"We are. I'm just different. I'm somewhat against the grain, just a bit odd," Ochocinco said, standing at his locker with his gold football shoes behind him. "Opposites attract. It's reality, It's the way it's always been. Therefore, I'll mesh well here with my teammates (and) the coaches."