Don’t get me wrong; it impacts the Patriots’ offense if Moss goes to another team in free agency. It’s good to have a once-in-a-lifetime talents who can catch 98 passes for 1,493 yards and 23 touchdowns while still learning the names of his teammates as Moss did in 2007 for New England.
But in 2006, the Patriots were within a third-and-2 conversion of going to Super Bowl XLI where they’d have smoked the Bears. And Tom Brady was then throwing to Reche Caldwell, Jabar Gaffney and Troy Brown. Meanwhile, Moss was sulking out in Oakland and the Raiders had a “FOR SALE, BEST OFFER” sign on him.
New England is the one environment in which this particular kind of Moss can flourish. Think about it. Before he came to the Patriots on the second day of last April’s draft, Moss had long conversations with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, VP of Player Personnel Scott Pioli and owner Robert Kraft. When he arrived in New England, his locker was to the left of the league’s best quarterback and he indoctrinated into the Patriots’ way of doing things. Moss finally became part of the “we” and forgot about the “me.”
The structure in New England, the realization on Moss’ part that he was not the most accomplished guy in the room — not by a long shot on a team full of three-time Super Bowl champions — led to his performance.
So too did the presence of Brady. Two quarterbacks in the NFL — Brady and Peyton Manning — are good enough to keep Moss from second-guessing their decisions and accepting that one week his role might be 11 passes and 145 yards and the next it might be 3 for 27. That’s it.
You think Randy Moss is going to trot stoically to the sideline if Jake Delhomme or Donovan McNabb or Tony Romo underthrows him and gets picked in a fourth quarter? I don’t either. But Brady rarely throws any interceptions and Moss would never show him up because Brady helped Moss reclaim his career.
And this isn’t even getting into the relationship between Moss and the coaching staff. In New England, Belichick didn’t launch public bouquets when the trade was made or after. He didn’t predict excellence, say the offense would be more dangerous or disrespect players like Caldwell by saying Moss would blow away the team’s 2006 production. He lumped Moss in with everyone else. And when this man who throws compliments around like manhole covers did praise, it was for aspects of Moss that had never been mentioned: his intelligence, his selflessness.
You tell me what it will be like in Dallas, for instance. Think Jerry Jones will be able to resist clapping Moss on the shoulder at the introductory press conference and talking about offensive sizzle and the “wow” factor? Think Wade Phillips and his 0-4 playoff record are going to command the same respect as Belichick and his five Super Bowl rings? Think Romo, for as talented and as nice a guy as he seems to be, is going to be able to Alpha Dog a huddle with Terrell Owens and Randy Moss in it?
But here’s Moss, for the first time, an unrestricted free agent. Maybe the Patriots made him an offer he considered insulting. Hey, maybe it was insulting. Maybe the lack of playoff touches (7 catches for 94 yards and a touchdown in three games) soured him. Maybe he just isn’t the kind of guy who can subjugate his ego the way the Patriots demand. Maybe he feels he didn’t get enough credit for New England’s 18-0 record, Brady’s 50 touchdown passes and Wes Welker’s 112 catches. Maybe he just wants to see what’s out there and will re-sign with New England before sundown.
There is no maybe about this, though. Randy Moss has never been better than his one season in New England. Not as a player. Not as a teammate.
Meanwhile, the Patriots have only lost one of the four Super Bowls they appeared in this decade — the one Moss played in.
You tell me who’ll be worse off if Moss leaves?
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