(Richie's Editors note: I had written this literally 15 minutes before the rumors started flying yesterday that Moss would be traded. I'm posting this anyways)
Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss ran down field the entire game, but was only thrown at once. Was he slacking off again? What was the reason for such a statistically disappointing night? Let's look at the other receivers:
Wes Welker - 10 targets, 8 receptions, 70 yards.
Brandon Tate - 5 targets, 4 receptions, 39 yards.
Aaron Hernandez - 5 targets, 5 receptions, 29 yards.
Danny Woodhead - 1 target, 1 reception, 11 yards, 1 TD.
Rob Gronkowski - 1 target, 1 reception, 4 yards.
If these other players were able to produce against the Miami Dolphins' defense, why wasn't Moss getting any yardage? Heck, why wasn't Moss getting any looks? Were cornerback Vontae Davis and safety Chris Clemons that phenomenal in pass coverage? Or was it the game plan all along?
Let's look a little deeper after the jump!
Moss was taken out on numerous plays- and by numerous, I mean almost every play. Davis played 7-10 yards back off Moss, which means that Moss could have run hitch routes to catch the ball and pick up 5-6 yards. Every time. So why didn't Moss adjust and try and make some plays? Why did he continue to run down the field? Was it the coaches fault for not adjusting? Or do you already know where I'm going with this?
Moss gave up catching the ball for 5-6 yards and let the other players do the work. Every time he streaked down the field, he had #1 CB Vontae Davis and safety Chris Clemons tagging along for the route. That means that Moss pulled two players out of box, away from the line of scrimmage and away from other Patriots' receivers. Why should Moss catch the ball for a short gain, when he can open the field for a 10 yard pick-up by other players? That's called playing a team game.
Look at the skill sets of the players with reception:
Aaron Hernandez - Large Slot Receiver
Wes Welker - Shifty Slot Receiver
Danny Woodhead - Shifty Receiver Out of the Backfield
Brandon Tate - Shifty Sideline Receiver
Moss running down field opens up the underneath routes run by Hernandez, Welker and Woodhead. Moss' route, in conjunction with the slot receivers' routes, means that Tate faces a lot of single coverage against the #3 cornerback. That's a great match-up, every time.
Was Davis really a shutdown corner? I wouldn't go so far to say that. He's an excellent corner and when he's paired with a safety, there's little chance for Moss to make a play. Is that shutdown in the sense that the defense prevented a player from producing? Yeah, I guess. Is it shutdown in the sense that they stopped the player with no detriment to the rest of the defense? I don't think so. Having Davis and a safety on Moss definitely hurt the defense as other Patriots players were able to produce.
Hopefully Moss can continue this type of team play and maybe he'll catch a deep throw every once in a while- just know that if a defense takes Moss out of the game, it usually means some other player is open. I don't know how long Moss will be happy if he doesn't catch anything, but the Patriots offense as a whole will be more than happy to take advantage.