Should we defend Randy Moss?
Randy Moss is still the most dangerous weapon in the NFL—and I am not going to argue that.
However, after the Patriots’ 20-10 win over the Panthers yesterday, his effort was brought into question by members of the Carolina secondary—especially Chris Gamble, who implied that Moss “shut it down” on certain routes.
First, Tom Brady came to his defense, calling Moss “one of the best players in the history of the NFL,” and the QB basically took responsibility for the play that has come into question—when it looked like Moss stopped short of a deep out route. It’s what we expect a QB to say, right? Of course, but I am still buying it.
Then it was head coach Bill Belichick also defending Moss, taking some parting shots at Gamble and the Panthers when he said, “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."
Now, I have to agree with Belichick’s comments regarding the Panthers, who despite giving up over 100-yards receiving to Wes Welker and 185 yards on the ground to the Patriots, made it a point to let the media world know that they not only took Moss out of the game, but implied that he quit on his own team.
Asinine, really, after taking a beating on the road.
But, that is where we are now. And I know from watching Moss on film during my own playing career that he does at times look disinterested on the field when the ball is not coming his way, when he is away from the formation on a running play, and most importantly, when teams game plan to stop him.
Which was the exact case yesterday against the Panthers.
However, we tend to forget that for all the negative comments made about Moss throughout his career, he still forces teams to game plan specifically to stop him. Whether that means rolling a safety over the top and basically playing Cover 2 to his side of the field or playing man coverage—with a safety aligning between the hash marks and the numbers to help on any vertical route—he is always an issue when you set a defensive game plan throughout the week.
Bottom line, he makes defensive coordinators and defensive backs nervous.
So, yes, the Panthers did take Moss out of the game. And, yes, he did look lethargic on a certain number of plays. But to say that he quit on his teammates? No, I’m not buying that.
Did he play poorly? Sure he did, and just like the other members of that team, he will be corrected when they turn on the film today in their meeting rooms—but that is all that I see in play after this story has come out.
And, I am going to listen to Brady and Belichick when it comes to judging his character as a teammate because, like you, I am not in those meetings, on the practice field or in the locker room with a player that still demands respect from a defensive standpoint—and causes opposing players to mouth off to the media even after a loss. Because we can’t pretend to know what is being called in that huddle, just as we can’t pretend to know what route is supposed to be run as told on the chalkboard in the Patriots meeting rooms.
The Panthers shut down Randy Moss. Well, congrats, because this is the same guy who will be back in the good graces of fans after he runs past a defensive back in the near future—like he has done his whole career.
That is who he is. Sure, you can game plan to take him completely out of a game, but in return, you will allow other players to beat you, just like we saw yesterday. And because of that, I am going to defend Moss.
Because production or not, he always makes a difference in the ball game when he is on the field.
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Listen to The Cover 2 Podcast as Bowen and Bunting talk Week 14 NFL action and look at the Randy Moss drama in New England.
To read about Lovie Smith's 5-8 Chicago Bears, check out this article from Bleacher Report.