If you’re living under a rock, you may not know that Randy Moss has been waived by the Minnesota Vikings. There could be any number of reasons why. It could be his rambling love fest for the New England Patriots after his new team was just slapped by our boys. Richard Hill did a very nice job of running down the skinny on this whole debacle, so I won’t rehash too much. While Richard states, "Would I like to see Moss back in a Patriots' uniform? I wouldn't complain", I WOULD complain. And loudly. Here’s why.
You may find it a bit unnerving to find me so against Randy Moss, OUR #81, back in a Flying Elvis. Ever since he joined this team, I’ve been a huge proponent, and sometimes defender, of this tall, lanky drink of water. In 2007, he did some amazing things. 23 touchdown receptions and a major contributor to a near perfect season is nothing to sneeze at. Under the thumb of Hoodie and the Kraft family, he kept himself in check and played like a team player, a Patriot player, should play. He kept his mouth shut, negotiated his contract in 2008, and let it ride.
Then, when training camp started in 2010, he saw contracts getting handed to the likes of Vince Wilfork and Tom Brady. Contracts that would make any player staring at the end of his career, envious. Bill Belichick, working on retooling our Patriots, told Moss in February that he wasn’t part of NE’s future plans. During training camp of the same year, Belichick again approached Moss, but seemed to reverse his thinking and wanted to discuss a new contract. Moss responded it was the wrong time; wait until the end of the season.
Then there was the rambling post-game presser after a 38-24 victory against the Bengals. Then there was a reported dispute with Patriots quarterback coach Bill O’Brien at halftime of a matchup with the Dolphins. The issues began piling up. The most telling issue of all? Moss’s production was down and the Patriots were heading in a different direction. For years, I’ve complained NE has squandered tight ends. They concentrated so much on receivers as targets that they forgot how potent a weapon a 250 pound guy can be. Boom!! Hernandez and Gronkowski appear on the roster and…ARE MAKING PLAYS!! Sure, there are a few rookie mistakes, but they blocking, catching the ball, and putting points on the board. Did I mention Brandon Tate? Suddenly, Randy is not the only game in town. Oh, and a guy named Deion Branch is back in town. He may be a little slow on the acceleration portion of the game, but dang if he isn’t excited to be here and producing; genuinely grateful.
Now, let’s get to the reasons I feel Randy shouldn’t be back in NE. First, Randy is a one dimensional receiver; he’s vertical and that’s about all he can contribute to the team. Vertical usually means long and those throws most likely have a high probability of failure. At best, he catches the ball for a TD OR draws a PI. At worst, nada. Sure, Randy can stretch a field and draw 1 or 2 DB’s off of someone else (the decoy, if you will), but at what cost? How many of Tom Brady’s throws were to "keep Randy in the game", to give him touches? Wouldn’t it be better to line up 2 TE’s, a few WR’s, and scare the bejeezus out of an opposing defense? Who the hell do you cover if there are 4 legitimate threats?
While I usually can’t stand The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy, he was very right when he stated, "The Patriots are better without Moss because they are more like the old Patriots we came to know and love back in the beginning of the 21st century. Those Patriots stressed team above self, a mind-set impossible for Moss to grasp. Randy has no problem with the one-handed catch, but he can’t handle the concept that he’s part of a team. With No. 81 (or No. 84 in Minnesota) it’s always about Team Moss. It’s about touches and that all-important next contract." Dan’s right and it pains me to say so.
This team is different, but the same. It has the vibe, the energy of a 2001-2004 team. There’s no outrageous 50 TD season in Brady’s future. There’s no ridiculous offensive yardage stat to cheer about. There’s quite simply a team that finds ways to win. It may be one group of guys this Sunday or it could be a different group of guys the next. It could be WR Brandon Tate or CB Devin McCourty. Maybe the diminutive Danny Woodhead or how about Gronk or Hernandez?
This team is different, but eerily familiar. I’ll take more of it, Bill. And, sad to say, no Randy.