Around the NFL on Moss

Randy Moss’ effort, or lack-thereof, last Sunday against the Panthers and their DB’s ensuing comments about Moss shutting it down has continued to be a hot topic around the league. I’ve already summarized Tom Brady’s, Bill Belichick’s, and Kevin Faulk’s defense of Moss, including my own thoughts. Here’s what’s being said around the NFL from the “experts.”

Patriot legend Troy Brown, who played with Moss in 2007 and attended the same college (Marshall), had the following to say:

It was just a crazy week for everybody and being sent home, the distraction, maybe it did affect his game, but there are not too many things in the past where…I can’t say he was dogging it. He dropped some catches we’re used to seeing Randy Moss make. The controversy highlighted it. When he did it early in the year no one noticed, but there is a little more attention put on those catches when there is some kind of controversy throughout the week, with his being sent home. I can guarantee you this, if he’s not in that lineup, you will definitely see a lot of changes in the way teams play the Patriots. He is a huge asset to the football team just being on the field because you’re not going to put your guard down and give him the chance to change the game with one play, whether he’s dogging it or not.”

Perry Fewell, head coach of the Patriots’ upcoming opponent the Buffalo Bills, wouldn’t take the media bait to say something negative about Moss’ effort:

I’m not gonna comment on that (Moss’ effort). I think Randy Moss is one of the most prolific receivers in this league, and he can go whenever he wants to go. Sometimes you have good games and sometimes you have bad games.”

John Czarnecki of commented on Moss and his importance to the Pats’ postseason hopes:

Whether or not Moss telegraphed his out route on the interception or shut it down once he knew he’d always be covered by a safety over the top, only he can answer. But what kills Moss with the fans is that while he’s slowing down, tiny Wes Welker continues to race across the middle catching passes while knowing some linebacker or someone bigger is getting ready to knock his head off…..The Patriots can’t win big without Moss. He can still stretch the field if he wants to. The big, unanswered question is: Does he want to anymore? Or, is he shutting it down for good like he did with the Raiders?”

Patriots’ owner Bob Kraft was vocal about his support of Moss:

I can only speak for myself. I really believe in him, and support him. He’s made a great contribution to this team. Wes Welker has been great and productive, but he’s been fortunate to have Randy on the other side. Randy will be very productive and has been very for us. Look at his stats. So I’m really happy he’s part of our team. I look for a lot of good things from him before the season’s over.”

ESPN analyst and Moss’ former teammate and mentor from his Minnesota Vikings day, Cris Carter, was one of Randy’s harshest critics this week:

For me, as someone who teaches wide receivers how to be wide receivers and how to run routes and what type of effort and stuff it would take, it was pathetic, and I was shocked. Because I know it’s in him, but I thought he had matured to the point where I wasn’t going to see it anymore. Something happened to Randy — something had an effect on him. When they sent those players home, did that have an effect on Randy? I’m not going to say that in particular because I’m not there in the locker room — I don’t know that. But something happened that affected Randy and his approach to the game and what he decided he was going to give out there.”

SI’s Peter King pretty much called Bill Belichick’s and Tom Brady’s defense of Moss a lie so that they don’t permanently lose Moss, and even referred to Moss as “soft”:

“You’ve seen Tom Brady and Bill Belichick staunchly defend Randy Moss in the last 36 hours, and so you’re thinking, ‘Well, maybe the media’s being too hard on Moss for laying down against Carolina.’ Not true.

There’s a reason Brady, desperate for another target at receiver other than Wes Welker, threw four of his 32 passes for Moss on Sunday, and went 2.5 quarters without throwing a pass Moss’ way after Moss fumbled on the first play of the second quarter. It’s because Moss checked out of this game, giving only marginal effort.

But the reason you won’t ever hear Belichick or Brady even remotely chide Moss is because they know — as Denny Green knew a decade ago and Mike Tice knew after him — that Moss will check out totally if you challenge him mentally. He’s soft. And Brady and Belichick are trying to get whatever they can out of this classic prima donna as they try to save their season. Sitting on him doesn’t accomplish that.”

Finally, ESPN analyst Merrill Hoge provided the staunchest defense of Randy Moss. After watching the coaches’ tape on the game, Hoge went as far as to call last Sunday one of Randy’s “best games of his career without the football in his hands.” Below are some highlights of his comments, but you can watch the full video by clicking here.
After watching the game tape for nearly two hours, one thing was clear after I got done: Randy Moss never took a play off….Because the Patriots ran the ball so well, he was vital in blocking, did a lot of that, and made some key blocks. In fact, the Patriots would use him to free other guys up, like Wes Welker….All the heat he is taking: unwarranted. He played as good as he as ever played without the ball the last 10 years.”
So there you have it. After missing yesterday’s practice for an undisclosed, non-injury related reason, Moss was back today. It will be interesting to see his response to everything that’s been said when the Patriots take the field on Sunday. It will be even more interesting to see if the Pats try and force feed the ball to him to silence the critics. That could be a problem if he really isn’t open and Brady tries to force it in. The Bills lead the league in interceptions. This is going to be a very interesting game, and we haven’t even heard from T.O. yet!
Go Pats!

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Tags: Bill Belichick Randy Moss Tom Brady Troy Brown

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