Quotulatiousness

January 31, 2013

Randy Moss is not the greatest NFL receiver … but he could have been

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

Judd Zulgad agrees that Randy Moss was a great wide receiver during his career in Minnesota, was even better in New England, but he was not the best ever:

Randy Moss declared this week that he believes he is the greatest wide receiver to ever play the game.

Moss is wrong. He’s not.

That honor belongs to Jerry Rice and from there the debate about who is second can begin.

But in giving ESPN and sports-talk shows invaluable fodder to discuss during Super Bowl week, one has to wonder this about Moss: Will he wake up one day long after his NFL career is over and realize that he could have been the greatest receiver to have played if only he had elected to apply himself.

There are no denying Moss’ talents.

Moss, who at 35 is spending the twilight of his career with the San Francisco 49ers, served almost immediate notice upon his arrival with the Minnesota Vikings in 1998 that NFL teams had made a mistake by passing on him 19 times in the first round of that draft.

In his rookie season, Moss helped to redefine how we thought about the wide receiver position.

[. . .]

Cris Carter might not have been beloved by the media, but he tried his best to mold Moss into a professional in 1998. Moss arrived back in Minnesota for a tumultuous month in 2010 and did far more damage than good in numerous areas, including when it came to Percy Harvin’s development.

Moss attempted to point out Wednesday the quality of quarterbacks that Rice had to work with during the majority of his career. What Moss failed to mention is that he spent three-plus seasons with a first-ballot Hall of Famer in Tom Brady and broke Rice’s record by catching 23 touchdown passes in 2007.

Guess who ruined the relationship between Moss and the Patriots? It wasn’t the football team. Rice bounced around late in his career because he wanted to hang on too long. Moss began to bounce around during the prime of his career because he had become a pain.

Moss, like Brady, should go into Canton, Ohio, on the first ballot when he’s eligible — it looks like he wants to stick around for at least one more season — and he should go down as a receiver who helped change the NFL as we know it.

What he won’t go down as is the greatest receiver of all time. For that, Randy Moss has no one to blame but himself.

November 7, 2010

Spiralling out of control?

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 12:39

The Star Tribune writers Judd Zulgad and Chip Scoggins chart the rocky situation facing Vikings coach Brad Childress as the team faces a must-win game at home against the Arizona Cardinals:

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf will hear the fans’ opinion of embattled coach Brad Childress on Sunday at Mall of America Field. And it could be ugly.

Childress was pilloried on sports talk shows, message boards and websites when he cut cult hero Randy Moss on Monday. The move also irked an ownership group that wasn’t consulted. And you can be sure neither the fan base nor management is happy with a 2-5 start for a team expected to be a title contender.

That’s where it all really pivots: the terrible start to the season for a team that was expected to repeat last year’s playoff surge and get to the Superbowl for the first time since 1976. Expectations were so high that anything less than 6-1 at this point would have the fans grumbling. Losing 5 games has left them looking for heads to roll.

The trouble with Moss started long before he berated caterers in the team’s locker room, long before he didn’t attempt to catch a possible touchdown pass after a penalty during the New England game, and long before he criticized Childress in front of ownership and the media.

Moss is a punk. An incredibly talented, self-centred, now aging punk. Childress seems to have completely missed that little detail in the trade. Bill Belichick doesn’t give up players for no reason, but he found the perfect patsy in Brad Childress. Then, to compound the mistake of thinking he could control Moss (in a way no other coach except Belichick has ever done), Childress then waived Moss without clearing it with the owners.

To sum up: hopes raised, hopes dashed, third round pick flushed down the drain, and still no solution for the passing game. Oh, and pissing off the boss into the bargain on top of the already angry fan base.

That’s not to say that Childress was wrong to cut Moss: as I said at the time, I was surprised that he made the decision so quickly. But the one right thing he did couldn’t salvage the wrong decision that brought Moss back in the first place. I welcomed the signing, on the assumption that Childress knew what he was getting — a seriously faulty assumption in hindsight. That fault isn’t on Moss, who was just being his normal prickly, obnoxious self. The fault is on Childress.

Childress, who might have saved himself criticism by consulting with the owners before pulling the plug, instead acted alone. The move stunned and disappointed many players; on Wednesday, Childress refused to divulge much about his decision.

Even the right decision can come back to haunt you if you don’t follow the rules.

Does Childress still have the support of the team?

“I can’t speak for every guy in the locker room, and I’m not going to,” Favre said Wednesday. “But I think ultimately, regardless of scheme, philosophy, each player, the bottom line is you are playing for yourself first. If you don’t play well, you may be out of the league before too long. Secondly, you are playing for your team.”

As the team’s final weekly practice ended Friday, Childress and Harvin got into a heated argument when the coach questioned his injured receiver’s effort, according to sources.

When incidents like that become public, people wonder if the coach has lost the locker room.

I guess we’ll find out today, based on how the Vikings perform in the game at home against the Arizona Cardinals. Minnesota is favoured by 9 according to the odds-makers, and anything less than that will be underperformance by the team.

Zulgad and Scoggins seem to think that Childress is still secure in his job until the end of the season (his contract doesn’t have a buy-out clause, so it’d be expensive to fire him). I don’t know if the owners agree. Another loss, especially at home, might well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Update: John Holler thinks this game has to be an epic beating of the Cardinals to save Childress:

If Brad Childress wants to keep his job, he may have to blow out the Cardinals in the Metrodome. The rankings say that might be attainable, as the Cardinals have poor positioning in numerous league rankings.

[. . .]

Only one team has been in the red zone less than the Cardinals offense. Only one team has allowed opponents to get into the red zone more often than Arizona. In their last three road games, they have been outscored 104-27. These are epically bad numbers. How they have a 3-4 record is a mystery, much less posting wins over New Orleans, the Raiders and St. Louis – all teams with .500 or better records. They have found a way to win games, but, when they are bad, they are very bad. And, fortunately for the Vikings, they are very bad on the road.

There have been a lot of questions about the future of Brad Childress. With the Bears and Packers following the Cardinals on the schedule, this is a game that needs to not only be won, but won convincingly. Today’s game needs to be a beating. Any win will be acceptable. A loss to the Cardinals? Childress may be in the market for boxes on Monday. Don’t believe that? Let the numbers do the talking.

November 2, 2010

Vikings coach taking heat for throwing away 3rd round pick in Moss trade

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:42

When it was first announced, the trade with the New England Patriots for Randy Moss looked like a daring, innovative solution to some of the problems the Vikings were facing this season. They gave up a third-round pick in the draft for a volatile, aging, but still talented wide receiver — a point of weakness this season with Sidney Rice still on the PUP list. A third-rounder seemed like a pretty fair exchange to shore up the weakest link on the team.

Until yesterday, of course, when Brad Childress waived Moss. It’s not clear if he informed the ownership before doing so:

Super Bowl? How about super bizarre?

Less than a month after bringing Randy Moss back to the Minnesota Vikings, coach Brad Childress jettisoned the star wide receiver after four games.

According to an NFL source, Childress did not immediately inform owner Zygi Wilf of his intentions, upsetting the owner, who had just given up a draft choice and committed millions to the mercurial receiver. The apparent lack of communication meant Moss was not put on waivers by the 3 p.m. deadline and the team did not confirm he was gone until issuing a statement Monday night.

A third-round pick for 3/4 of a season of Moss still seemed like the solution to the passing game problems. A third-round pick in exchange for four games now looks like the worst trade in the NFL this season.

If Moss is claimed off waivers, the team that gets him would inherit the final year of a contract that is worth $6.4 million in base salary. But if Moss passes through waivers, the Vikings will owe Moss the remaining $3.888 million on his deal and another team could sign Moss for approximately $450,000.

The Vikings have to hope that someone like the Buffalo Bills or the Seattle Seahawks are willing to pay nearly $4 million to get Moss. Otherwise, they’re out both the draft pick and the rest of Randy’s salary for the year.

November 1, 2010

The other shoe drops: Randy Moss is waived by the Vikings

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 15:53

After Randy Moss spent his post-game “self-interview” blowing kisses to the team that just traded him, he’s now been waived by the Minnesota Vikings:

NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi reports that the Vikings waived Moss on Monday. At his Monday press conference, Vikings coach Brad Childress mentioned that he allowed Moss to stay back in Boston for a few days before re-joining the team. It looks like he can stay there.

We have no reason to believe the story is not true, but PFT can report via a league source that Moss is not yet aware that he’s been released.

Moss would now be subject to leave waiver rules and could be claimed by any team. (To clarify, even veterans are subject to the waiver process after the trading deadline. Think Chris Chambers last year.)

The Bills would have the first crack at him because they have the worst record. Any team claiming Moss would have to pay the rest of his $6.4 million base salary. If Moss goes unclaimed — a distinct possibility we’ll know by 4PM Tuesday — the Vikings owe him the rest of this contract.

That was unexpectedly sudden. I’m not saying it wasn’t the correct move, just that I didn’t think Childress would pull the trigger this fast.

Randy Moss “honeymoon” already at an end

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:30

Many commentators were reminding us that Randy Moss has a history of falling “out of love” with his current team fairly soon, unless he gets a steady diet of big plays. Big plays aren’t in the Vikings playbook this year, so the honeymoon is already over:

Straight regret, homey.

Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss sure sounded like he missed the New England Patriots in his full-court media press after Sunday’s 28-18 loss.

Moss clutched the podium for an impromptu five-minute press conference in which he refused to answer questions, gushed over the Patriots organization and ripped Vikings players and coaches for not listening to his tips about his old team from 2007 to Oct. 6, 2010.

[. . .]

“If it’s going to be an interview, I’m going to conduct it,” Moss said. “So I’m going to answer my own questions then give you all the answers.”

His first attempt focused mainly on his love for the Patriots, listing off everyone from quarterback Tom Brady, coach Bill Belichick, owner Robert Kraft and various Patriots team captains.
Belichick is “the best coach in football history” in Moss’ eyes.

Update: Moss has been waived after his verbal love letter to the Patriots.

October 18, 2010

Vikings outlast Cowboys for 24-21 win

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:42

Yesterday’s game showed a lot of both the good and bad of this year’s Vikings team. They made fewer mistakes than in previous weeks, and (as always) got a great performance from their defence, but displayed yet another inconsistent offensive effort.

I didn’t see the first few series, tuning in with the score level at 7-7. It was yet another forgettable first half for Brett Favre and the offense, and they went into the locker room at the half down 14-7. According to Judd Zulgad, it was Randy Moss who gave the inspirational half-time speech to the troops:

Randy Moss departed the home locker room Sunday without talking to reporters. The mercurial wide receiver had five receptions for 55 yards in his first game as a Viking at Mall of America Field since 2004, and thus his silence did not come as a surprise.

It turned out, however, that Moss’ refusal to speak did not extend to venting at his teammates at halftime of the Vikings’ 24-21 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Moss, who rejoined the Vikings in an Oct. 6 trade with New England, let it be known that he had seen enough after watching a second consecutive opening half of offensive ineptitude from his new team.

“I think it was a matter of fact, what we needed to hear,” quarterback Brett Favre said after the Vikings improved to 2-3 and dropped Dallas to 1-4. “It wasn’t anything scientific. It had a couple of choice words in it that I’d rather not use.”

Whatever Moss said, it worked.

Percy Harvin showed that he’d been paying attention to Moss, taking the second-half kickoff back for a touchdown, tying the score at 14-14. Adrian Peterson scored a short-yardage TD a series later, giving the Vikings their first lead of the game.

The Cowboys responded with a TD pass from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant, victimizing backup cornerback Lito Sheppard, who appeared to be trying for the interception instead of the pass break-up. The final points of the game were a field goal by Ryan Longwell, which was set up by E.J. Henderson’s second interception of the game (and only the fourth of his career).

Update: I think this AP photograph by Andy King, published by the Pioneer Press clearly shows Sheppard’s attempt to catch the pass:

If he’d just gone for the block or deflection, I think he’d have broken up the pass nicely.

October 12, 2010

Vikings fall short in 2-minute drill

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:39

After either a thrilling defensive struggle or a boring low-scoring affair (take your pick), the Vikings suddenly became dangerous through the air, with two touchdowns to Percy Harvin and one to Randy Moss. The Favre-to-Moss score was historic, as it was Brett Favre’s 500th TD (and he went over the 70,000 yards of total passing milestone on that series — nearly 40 miles through the air).

Minnesota’s defence kept them in the game, limiting the Jets to only field goals through the first half, but spending far too much time on the field — the Vikings managed just barely more than 50 yards of total offense through 30 minutes. The end of the first half must have seemed more like the end of a regular game for the tired defenders.

In addition to the other records, Favre also passed Warren Moon for the top all time in another category: fumbles. He fumbled the ball twice (both times the Jets came up with the ball), including one that he dropped onto Adrian Peterson’s foot for an unplanned punt.

After the second Harvin TD, it was a two-point game (the Vikings having missed a conversion to tie the game). The Vikings finally appeared to be clicking, with the offensive line keeping the pressure off Favre and the receivers managing to get open for passes.

The Jets gave Minnesota a gift in their second-to-last series, stopping the clock twice and going incomplete on third down to give the Vikings nearly two full minutes to close out the game with a score. Favre then re-gifted the opportunity back to New York with an intercepted pass that was run in for the game-sealing score.

The game, however interesting, may have been less important than the latest scandal to excite the media feeding frenzy:

The Vikings shocked the NFL world by orchestrating a trade that brought Randy Moss back to Minnesota. Who would have guessed it would become a secondary story by the end of the week?

The Moss trade became a sidebar to the evolving scandal involving Brett Favre and alleged inappropriate messages and photos sent to former New York Jets employee Jenn Sterger in 2008.

The story, broken by the website Deadspin.com, gained steam throughout the weekend and serves as a juicy subplot to the Vikings’ Monday night game against … you guessed it, the New York Jets.

The “sexting” story actually broke a while back, but for some reason didn’t catch the media’s attention until this week. The NFL is investigating, which may end up with some disciplinary action against Favre if they determine that the story has validity.

October 11, 2010

Let’s hope it’s 1975 all over again

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:17

I find it hard to believe it, but that’s the only time the Vikings have ever beaten the Jets:

With WR Randy Moss expected to play, the Vikings now have the vertical outside threat they need to allow Percy Harvin to play the slot, where his versatility is put to better use. And stretching the defense will only make RB Adrian Peterson more explosive as the Jets will have to pick their poison. Moss will likely be shadowed by CB Darrelle Revis (hamstring), who returns after missing a game and last week said Moss didn’t always play 100 percent during their Week 2 matchup against New England.

Jets QB Mark Sanchez has thrown eight touchdown passes over the past three games and gets WR Santonio Holmes back from suspension to add another downfield weapon. Sanchez’s ability to keep moving the offense will be key as the Vikings allow just 3.6 yards per carry and back quarterbacks into consistent third-and-long situations. Minnesota’s pass defense has improved with the returns of CB Cedric Griffin.

[. . .]

- The Vikings’ only victory over the Jets came on Oct. 12, 1975, when they beat New York, 29-21, at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minn.
– The Vikings will be happy to be playing in the New Meadowlands. They never beat the Jets in their former home, going 0-4 at the Meadowlands against them.
– The Vikings have played the second fewest games out of any NFL team against the Jets, only having met them eight times since 1970.

[. . .]

SERIES HISTORY: 9th regular-season meeting. Jets lead series, 7-1. York has won six in a row dating to the 1979 season. The Vikings’ only win in the series was in 1975.

October 7, 2010

Feschuk and Reid don’t think adding Moss will help the Vikings

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 17:22

The Two Scotts are rather sniffy about how much, if any, improvement the Vikings will see by adding Randy Moss:

Feschuk: So Randy Moss is back with the Vikings — because nothing inspires a veteran to new heights than returning to the scene of his greatest suckouts, hissy fits and feigned moonings that make Joe Buck cry. Clearly, this is an attempt to appease Brett Favre, which is a waste of time because everyone knows you can’t please old people.

     Coach Childress: Hey, Brett, look! I brought you a shiny new deep threat!

     Brett: Bah. Nobody visits me and ham doesn’t taste like it used to.

Pick: New York.

Reid: The Moss deal got me to thinking: Mabye we could get traded back to the PMO. Sure, Harper would be a bit different to work for than Martin — there would be fewer free-wheeling debates, more cats and way more waterboarding. But wouldn’t it be nice to tear it up big in the old town again? I guess that’s the nostalgic glow that’s roped Randy Moss back to Prince territory. Here’s a fun party game: Add Randy Moss’ age to the number of seasons Brett Favre has played, then divide by the total touchdown passes that Bernard Berrian has caught this year. If it comes out zero, congratulations. You’re not only correct, you’re Brad Childress — watching your season circle the toilet bowl. I’m not saying this looks desperate but the Vikings may have to change their name to Danny Bonaduce. Pick: New York.

October 6, 2010

Patriots trading Randy Moss?

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:02

An interesting development, indeed: NFL.com is reporting that a deal to send wide receiver Randy Moss back to Minnesota is “99 percent complete”:

The Patriots would receive a 2011 third-round draft pick in exchange for the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, who started his NFL career with the Vikings in 1998. Had New England allowed Moss to leave in free agency next offseason, it would have received a third-round selection in the 2012 draft as compensation.

Moss, who’s in the final year of his current contract, is scheduled to make $6.4 million in base salary this season. He wants a new deal, but he wouldn’t receive one from the Vikings as part of the trade, Lombardi reported.

[. . .]

What could change is the uniform that Moss wears, although he knows it well.

A first-round draft pick out of Marshall, Moss played in Minnesota from 1998 to 2004 and posted six 1,000-yard seasons. He was traded to the Oakland Raiders and had two mediocre seasons before being dealt to New England, where he enjoyed a resurgence. He caught an NFL-record 23 touchdown passes in 2007, his first season with the Patriots, and hasn’t had fewer than 1,000 receiving yards in a full season with the team.

If so, great! I was very sorry to see Randy leave the team, and it’s been an open secret for years that Brett Favre wanted to play with Moss. The Vikings are desperate for a number one receiver while Sidney Rice recovers from surgery, so this would be a no-brainer. I really hope this isn’t just empty rumours . . .

Update: It’s supposedly a done deal.

More than 38 years after quarterback Fran Tarkenton returned to the Vikings after once being traded away, receiver Randy Moss has gone home, too.

With the chances of the deal hovering in the high 90th percentile only an hour ago, the deal has been completed, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

The Vikings get Moss, and the Patriots get a third-round pick in the 2011 draft.

The looming deal was first reported by Jay Glazer of FOX, who also reports that the deal is done. Glazer reports that the Vikings hope to get Moss to Minnesota ASAP in order to commence preparations for the Monday night game against the Jets. Practices begin on Thursday.

We haven’t done the research, but we’re assuming that Moss is the first player in NFL history to appear in back-to-back Monday Night Football games.

The parallels between Moss and Tarkenton are eerie. Both players started their careers with the Vikings and spent six years with the team. Both players were gone for five years. Both players eventually returned.

Let’s hope that the Tarkenton parallels continue . . . Tark was a key component of the dominant Viking teams that went to three Superbowls.

Update, the second: Randy Moss jerseys already on sale at the Vikings store:

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