After a tough few weeks, Randy Moss is getting slammed for perceived poor play, for quitting on his team, teammates, and fans. Moss has carried around this albatross for many years; as soon as production drops, he's labeled a malcontent. The problem with this is that Moss is already so far above most receivers that a drop to merely above average is viewed with disdain, kind of like superman in the presence of kryptonite.
The recent spat of invective started when losing Panthers CB Chris Gamble said Moss gave up:
"Some of his body language let me know it was a run, and that’s how I got a feel on when to help out on the run," Gamble said. "I think if he came off the ball and had a little Wes Welker in him, you wouldn’t know what was coming. That’s what I think Moss needs to do -- be like Wes and go hard every play. I’m going to respect him, and every other [defensive back] is going to respect him if he comes off the ball hard."
To which the often stoic and reserved Belichick replied:
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In distinct Bill Belichick style, the Patriots coach defended receiver Randy Moss on Monday when asked about critical comments made by Panthers defenders Chris Gamble and Chris Harris that Moss didn't give an all-out effort in Sunday's game.
"My response would be that's a lot of conversation coming from a team that just lost another game," Belichick said.
A few minutes later in his press conference, Belichick added another dig.
"I have a lot of respect for Randy, I think he's one of our best players and I think if you watch other teams defend him and watch other teams play against him, they think the same way -- other than these two guys from Carolina after they lost another game. I guess they don't think that way. They haven't won a lot of games now."
Two of the mediums used to watch a matchup, television and actually attending the game, are probably the absolute WORST ways to analyze a game and garner any kind of an informed opinion about the on field play. Hence why I dismiss, with absolute disdain, the talking heads who are proclaiming Randy Moss a quitter. It got so bad on WEEI's Felger and Mazz show that I had to turn it off. Any caller defending Moss was labeled an idiot and a massive homer by Felger. I guess that's why I dismiss Felger. Granted he's nothing like "Joe Longneck" wearing a stained beater watching the game on his mother's 19" Magnavox because he's too cheap to buy a real TV yet he'll spring thousands on rims for his 1998 F150 because it's a "classic". No, he's nothing like Joe Longneck. He's worse. He actually has a microphone, hence the ability to spew the kind of garbage he so often does to thousands. A microphone and credentials does not a sports analyst make. To be a sports analyst you have to, you know, analyze.
I wish us little people had access to game film. Then we could see what the coaches see, not what the broadcasters want us to see. Such is the case with ESPN analyst Merril Hoge. Hoge actually watched the game film and had this to say:
"When you get caught up watching TV, you might think you know things," he said. "But when you put on [coaches] tape, that's the real story."
Regarding Moss quitting and what opposing players had to say, Hoge said:
"I didn't see one play where he was sitting around, quit, or was 'useless.' If you're going to use the words 'useless' and 'quit', I'd need to see some stronger evidence than words that come out of a losing locker room," Hoge said. "After I looked at the tape, based on the things I had heard, I expected to see the dog days of Randy Moss. But there was nothing of the sort. He played his tail off.
And to show what a class act Randy Moss is, he kept his mouth shut when he had every right to be furious:
"This one was wrong. He needed a voice. I was a player, and if I went in to watch tape of myself, saw what I saw, and then read the things that were out there, I would be so furious and upset, asking 'Are you kidding me?'"
Yup, he kept his mouth shut and carried himself like the leader he is. While every player around him, every player that matters stood up for him. Class act. However, aside from the above statements, the most interesting thing that came out of Hoge's analysis was a description of what was going on OFF CAMERA during the game, angles that were only visible in the game film:
"They would ride up a corner and press him at the line of scrimmage and then play a safety to that side anywhere from 20-25 yards over the top, which is a pre-snap indicator that you can forget the long ball, don’t even think about it. Give or take a little, I would say about 60 percent of the time, Tom Brady didn’t work to his side because of that. You can start there, because the coverage dictated not to throw there.
And the interception?
"The interception that so many people are talking about, it looks like he didn’t run a very good route. It wasn’t spectacular. He could have come out of his break sharper. But when you start watching coaching tape, two things pop out over the bad route. First, you look at where the corner is playing. He’s already playing outside technique, sitting where the route is going. So you could argue that you don’t want to make the throw because of how the corner is playing.
"On top of that, when you look at the end zone angle, Julius Peppers gets inside pressure right away and is getting his hands near the face of Brady when he’s about to step into his throw. Brady pulls his left leg and wheels on the throw. When you wheel on that, the ball sails and you can’t be accurate and decisive like that.
You can argue all you want with Hoge's interpretation, but at least his opinion is based on actually watching the only source that matters - the game film. Until Felger has access to the game film, his opinion means little more than our opinion as fans. Until then, he's just another talking head with a microphone, credentials and an opinion. The most dangerous kind of talking head, I might add.
Major props to Merril Hoge for coming out in defense of Moss. When he felt something was wrong, he had the gumption to stand up and say so.