When Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots acquired Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth for a total of three draft picks from the 5th and 6th rounds, most people praised them for pulling off a couple of low-risk, high-reward deals. Here at LBS, we knew better than to expect much from either player given their pasts. Still, the Patriots barely gave anything up so what could go wrong? New England would probably rather have the picks back at this point.
At the time the trades were made, we thought the Patriots would get a bit more from Haynesworth than Ochocinco but not a whole lot from either. Very few predicted they would get absolutely nothing from either player. Haynesworth was released on Tuesday — two days after he had it out with defensive line coach Pepper Johnson on the sidelines during a loss against the Giants. Ochocinco still has a team uniform, but he has caught nine passes in eight games and is rumored to be on very thin ice.
Simply put, both acquisitions were a mistake by a coach who is constantly praised for underpaying for troubled talents and getting value in return. It worked with Corey Dillon in 2004 and certainly worked with Randy Moss in 2007. In 2011, the approach failed miserably. Since people are so quick to praise Belichick for resurrecting careers and converting nothing into something, he needs to be criticized when the opposite occurs.
If Ochocinco and Haynesworth could be acquired for such low draft picks, there had to have been other moves to be made. Rather than bringing in two high-profile celebrities in hopes that they will conform to the Patriot way, Belichick could have been spending his time bolstering a thin secondary or a pathetic pass rush. If you can acquire players who have worn out their welcome in other cities without paying much, you should be able to do the same with players who have yet to make their mark. If Belichick is indeed a defensive mastermind and terrific evaluator of talent, there is absolutely no excuse for his defense to be dead last against the pass and dead last in total yards allowed.
Robert Kraft gives Belichick full reign of all personnel decisions that are made in New England. With that in mind, there is only one person to blame for the fact that the Patriots have not had a serviceable defense since they won the Super Bowl six years ago. Overall, New England has done a poor job drafting defensive players and a worse job in free agency. Am I saying a coaching change is needed in Foxboro? Of course not. But a philosophy change could be in order. Belichick is in need of an ego check, which means he has to stop dumping above-average defensive players (Richard Seymour, Ty Warren, Leigh Bodden) prior to and during each season. He also might want to consider bolstering his pass rush or secondary by trading up in the draft or spending more money money, not trading out of the early rounds and saving it.
The Patriots dynasty didn’t end now that their defense is horrendous and they are a borderline playoff team. It ended six years ago when they won their third Super Bowl. Whether or not Belichick and Tom Brady can win another in the few years they have left — as part of an entity that is completely separate from the franchise that won three Super Bowls in the earlier part of the decade — remains to be seen.Google+