Examining Ochocinco’s disappearing act

The Bengals are out of synch, Carson Palmer is struggling and Chad Ochocinco is … whoa. Where have you been, Ochocinco?

Ochocinco has been uncommonly unproductive — and quiet, but more on that in a bit — through the first five weeks this season. After a 159-yard, one touchdown performance in Week 1, Ochocinco has 157 yards and no touchdowns in four games since. He hasn’t had more than four receptions or 59 yards in any game.

Certainly, the disappearing act by Ochocinco, at least in part, can be rationalized via the struggles by Palmer and the presence of Terrell Owens. The result is that Ochocinco admits he’s not playing with confidence, and points to his numbers as proof.

Analyst Pat Kirwan shot me some interesting numbers. Ochocinco has been targeted 48 times this season, with 26 receptions. T.O. has been targeted 60 times, with 31 receptions. The difference is negligible. I’ve had more than one analyst suggest there are issues with Ochocinco’s route running, a point Kirwan echoed.

“At times it looks like there is a communication issue between Palmer and Ochocinco when it comes to his route conversions,” Kirwan said.

The reality is Ochocinco hasn’t given himself much to talk about.

He’s promised us a remedy, though, which is to bring back the “Chad of old,” the trash-talking, boisterous, Pepto┬áBismol-sending version.

Playbook analyst Brian Baldinger offered up a sliver lining, of sorts. He believes Ochocinco has been the odd man out as Bengals have tried to use too many weapons, and getting back to the formula for success from last season — featuring the run first, and Ochocinco second — is the answer.

“The good news going forward for Ochocinco is the current deployment of skill players isn’t working for the Bengals, and they won’t make the playoffs the way they’re performing,” Baldinger said. “Ochocinco’s┬ábest qualities have been his durability and his ability after the catch. The Bengals haven’t featured him yet, but if they want to repeat as a playoff team they better get him involved without sacrificing their run-first mentality.”

Palmer has taken his share of heat, and we’ve heard The Ocho’s plan. We’ll see what other answers the Bengals come up with during their bye week.

— Frank Tadych

Follow The NFL Network on Twitter @nflnetwork.

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