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Can Moss Help?

13 Feb

Randy Moss will finish his career as one of the top 3 wide receivers of all-time statistically. He dominates his competition with blinding speed and an innate ability to track to the football in the air. He catches the ball with his hands rather than cradling it in his chest, a skill that separates the best receivers from the average ones, and he does not dispose the proximity of the football to the defensive backs that cover him. As a wide receiver, Randy Moss is an exceptional talent and a bonafide superstar, but he has been on 5 different rosters in his career; he has been traded 2 times in this season. Moss, though extremely gifted, may be equally as harmful to his teams as he is helpful.

The Minnesota Vikings, the team that drafted Moss despite off-field questions at Marshall , had a 9-7 record in 1997 before he joined the team. They ranked 11th in overall league offense. The next year with Moss, the team went 15-1 and the offense ranked 1st. Moss led the league in touchdowns in his rookie season and the Vikings won their division, but bowed out in the first round. They looked primed for a run to the Super Bowl the next year, but had a 10-6 year that ended in a lost in the Divisional Finals again.  They finished a game better the next year, but lost once more in the Divisional Finals. The Minnesota Vikings collapsed after that and had a 5-11 record, missing the playoffs. Randy became a distraction off the field, publicly clashing with his quarterback, Daunte Culpepper, and the following year the Vikings struggled again earning a 6-10 record. They failed to reach the playoffs for the 3rd consecutive year despite a better 9-7 record, and the off-field antics of Moss became completely destructive to the team. After an 8-8 season in 2004, the Vikings traded him for two years of purgatory in Oakland. His career almost ended with the Raiders because he lacked professionalism and maturity. He would not run his routes properly because of an inept quarterback and the team suffered because of his obstinacy. But the New England Patriots took him and revitalized his career, while achieving the first ever 18-0, perfect regular season. Moss broke the single season record for touchdown receptions, however, despite having superior talent in New England, they lost Super Bowl XLII to the New York Giants. Moss was relatively quiet in the game though he did score a go-ahead touchdown on a six yard pass towards the end of the game.

Moss was  traded back to the Minnesota Vikings at the beginning of the season to unite him with one of the most decorated quarterbacks in National Football History, Brett Favre, and one of the league’s best running backs, Adrian Peterson. It seemed like a perfect fit for him on paper. A defense would have to choose between double-teaming Randy and letting AP gut them with yardage, or giving Moss a fair amount of single coverage and let him beat them over the top. Since Favre has one of the strongest arms in the league, the Vikings were expected to explode offensively. Instead, they fizzled. Neither Peterson nor Moss put up great numbers in his stay in Minnesota. Now, Moss has been shipped to Tennessee mid-season, once again matching him with a strong-armed quarterback and a dynamic running back, Vince Young and Chris Johnson, respectively. The Tennessee Titans are hoping for better results with Moss than the Vikings had. The jury is out on what they will get.

They will get a special talent with him. Randy Moss has the propensity to make offenses better because he has a unique blend of height, exceptional speed, and great hands. But, because his ego is so much larger than he is talented, there is no discernible difference between his impact in his team’s wins and in their losses. Even with the Patriots, a disciplined, veteran team, Moss would not run routes across the middle of the field because it is the most dangerous part of the football field. What separates him from becoming great like Jerry Rice, and even his contemporary, Terrell Owens, is his complete lack of willingness to sacrifice his body on the field. For all his faults, including an enormous ego, T.O. goes all out on the field and non-apologetically cares about winning. Moss often looks disinterested, and will play uninspired if too few balls are thrown to him; T.O. yells at his quarterback to get him the football. Moss lacks the passion that Rice and Owens displayed every game and on numerous occasions he showed little emotional maturity and total disregard for authority. Often times, Randy is his own worst enemy on the football field.

Randy Moss is a great athlete. He is a great wide receiver. He is physically gifted and capable of great performances. But, Randy Moss is not a great football player. The Titans got a great talent, but a poor decision maker and Randy Moss may be more trouble for them than he is helpful.

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