FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 31: Randy Moss #84 of the Minnesota Vikings runs onto the field before a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 31, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Randy Moss
It’s easy to say, in light of recent events, that any team looking to pick up Randy Moss is making an enormous mistake. Moss’ transgressions in just the span of half a season – bizarre press conferences, angry tiffs with teammates and coaches, open insults to caterers, lazy play, etc. – make it rather obvious that Moss is a raving lunatic who isn’t worth the trouble.
The contrarian argument to this is (and always has been) that Moss is worth it in the short-term because he can take the top off a defense and open up the rest of the offense for you. Moss’ defenders (and I’ve been one for a long time) will point to Percy Harvin’s increased production during Moss’ four games with the Vikings, and Wes Welker’s glaring lack of production with New England after Moss was traded away. Every team has jerks. What difference does adding one more make if you can exploit his considerable talents?
And they’re right, to a certain extent. Defensive coordinators still see Moss as a deep threat, and adjust their coverage accordingly, dedicating deep safeties to doubling Moss on go routes, leaving wide swaths of real estate open on short and intermediate passing routes. That’s the kind of thing a team like Tennessee could use, particularly after finding out that wideout Kenny Britt, their best deep threat, will be shelved for the next four to six weeks with an injury. You bring in Moss to replace Britt. If Moss acts up, you ditch him before the bye week is even over. Smart move, right?
This is where I end up siding with the holier-than-thou sportswriters of the world, which I hate doing because I think things like “team chemistry” are wildly overplayed magic unicorns that sportswriters WANT to believe in, regardless of whether or not they actually exist. Moss is a mistake for the Titans. Not just because he’s a jerk. Not just because he’s a social hermit who makes everyone else in the building uneasy. There are good football reasons for not bring him in. Yes, Moss takes the top off a defense. But it’s clear now that he does so at the expense of so much else on offense. Moss plays rope-a-dope with DB’s all game long. He jogs out ten routes to get the DB to sleep before finally turning on the jets and burning them deep. That’s what Moss does. Always has been.
At some point, Bill Belichick came to the conclusion that having Moss as a deep threat every 11 snaps or so isn’t worth the other 10 snaps he plays, which essentially leave the offense a man short. Moss’ time with the Vikings (they went 1-3) only proved it further. Adrian Peterson didn’t play any better with Moss supposedly clearing out room. Nor did Brett Favre set the world on fire with Moss forcing safeties deep. Having Randy Moss means that you are DEPENDENT on him making two or three huge catches a game. And when he doesn’t do that, your offense is screwed. Moss becomes your entire offense, and you don’t want your entire offense in the hands of a dude who might spend 35 snaps a game practicing his fly reel casting.
So that’s what the Titans are stuck with now. They’ve bought into the illusion that a willing Moss makes an offense more dangerous. But it doesn’t. If anything, it makes an offense more predictable. If you have Moss, I know you’re going to keep sending him deep and try and hit it a few times a game. If you can’t do that, I’ve got you. And the Titans are about to quickly find that out. There’s a reason they were the only team to claim him, and it isn’t because he’s a naughty boy.