Will the New England Patriots take steps to ensure Brandon Lloyd doesn't become the next Chad Ochocinco?
Ochocinco didn't even try to hide the struggles he faced while trying to learn the Patriots' layered offense last season, memorably likening the process to going from Halle Berry to Scarlett Johansson.
While we're still attempting to put the pieces of that analogy together, the larger truth is evident. It's difficult for any player to learn a new offensive scheme over the course of a few months. Understanding the nuances of the Patriots' playbook is said to be at a different level.
With Josh McDaniels back in the fold at offensive coordinator, could the Patriots simplify their game plan in 2012? This was the question posed by ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss, who used comments from NFL Network's Michael Lombardi as the basis for the theory.
"I think they have to go back and redefine themselves," Lombardi told Bill Simmons on "The BS Report" in February. "They've become a little bit like the Miami Dolphins when they had Danny Marino and only (Mark) Clayton and (Mark) Duper could play. The volume of offense became so great that no young player or any experienced player could come in and do it. .. They have to clean up the system."
Recent history suggests an issue. Reiss cited a list of the forgotten that included Bethel Johnson, Chad Jackson, Brandon Tate and Taylor Price. Ochocinco proves veterans can struggle as well. Of course, this all could just as easily be attributed to shortcomings in player-personnel evaluation.
Lombardi theorized that the Patriots might be inclined to go back to a more power-oriented offense, similar to that used by the 2007 team. That version of the Patriots went 16-0 and averaged 37 points per game during the regular season, so perhaps that wouldn't be a bad formula to emulate.