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Posts Tagged ‘Randy Moss’

Note: I got confused while writing the original column and used italics for no reason whatsoever. I have de-italicized all erroneously italicized paragraphs from Monday’s column. I will keep italics correctly used in context to add emphasis to a word or phrase, and, in parentheses, I will add (Italics Mine from the past). Got it?

 

NEW YORK — So many thoughts after the Patriots beat the Eagles 31-28. It’s good for the NFL, first of all. A week ago, after a 46-point win on the road against a team with a winning record, all hope for a suspenseful January was lost. The Patriots were untouchable. Now they’re not.

Remember last week when I surmised that maybe the ’27 Yankees could give the Patriots a game? Well, you can add the 2007 Eagles to that list. Current list of the five greatest teams of all-time: 2007 Patriots, 1927 Yankees, 2007 Eagles, 1967-73 UCLA Men’s Basketball, Lance Armstrong.

And it was one heck of a football game, a terrific example of what sports is capable of when it’s done right. Bill Belichick couldn’t have read his team the riot act after the game — at least I hope he didn’t. The Patriots did not play poorly. The Eagles played a tremendous football game, with a bad decision at the end leading to their demise. New England didn’t turn the ball over once, gained 410 total yards, and turned the tide of the game with three interceptions by a beat-up secondary.

Pretty much what I’m saying is, the entire game was won or lost by the following decision, which lead to their demise! I love using the word demise when talking about football. Makes me feel like Sue Grafton.

Re: the bad decision: You can’t kill A.J. Feeley for one terrible throw, because in the midst of a 60-minute ball game against the Team of the Decade, on the road and in your first start in 35 months, bad things will happen. They’re bound to. But there were still so many things wrong with the interception that sealed the deal for New England with four minutes left. The Eagles, trailing 31-28, moved 63 yards in seven plays to the New England 29, where Philadelphia had a second-and-4 and one timeout left. The Patriots had three timeouts left. The goal for Philly here should have been to milk as much of the clock as possible, because if the Eagles scored either a field goal or touchdown quickly, New England would have four stoppages of the clock and three-plus minutes to tie or win the game. Tom Brady could bake four loaves of bread in that time.

I watched these tense last few minutes in the green room outside the Football Night in America studios at NBC. Cris Collinsworth sat to my right. As the time ticked down, Collinsworth, maybe 15 seconds before the ball was snapped, said, “I don’t know why, but I just have a Jason Campbell feeling about this one.” Campbell, the Washington quarterback, threw three bad interceptions in the previous two fourth quarters, at Dallas and Tampa Bay. Now Feeley faded back, felt some pressure, and threw down the right side, deep into the end zone for Kevin Curtis — and the ball was picked off by Asante Samuel, his second interception of the day. True story about Collinsworth, and he didn’t even gloat. The Eagles could probably have run the next three plays (assuming one of the first two resulted in a first down) and gotten the clock down close to the two-minute warning.

Man. How cool is it that I get to hang out with Cris Collinsworth every day? Scale of 1-10, its a 9. Seriously. Hanging out with Tiki is like a 4. Costas, who I have the utmost respect for, is like a 5. Hanging out with Jerome has gotta be a 7. You can;t tell me its not a 7. Olbermann is a 1. That’s not a knock on Keith, though. It’s a strong crew we have at Football Night in America.

Impatience was mistake number one. Two: Why on God’s green earth was Feeley throwing at Samuel, who got ahead of Curtis and outran him to the end-zone pick? In the game, at the time, because of injuries to other Pats’ defensive backs was Eddie Jackson, a special-teams maven. Why not go after Jackson if you’re determined to throw the ball? Two very big mistakes.

I know, I know. It’s far easier to dissect a play with 20/20 hindsight. And I know, Feeley, who the smart money had selling Title Insurance by now, played the game of his life. Heck, he probably even did more good than bad this game. But, I gotta call it like I see it, and AJ Feeley blew this game for the Eagles that they wouldn’t have been in had it not been for AJ Feeley. Shame on you, AJ.

That’s football. In my view, New England survived because of Wes Welker. When the Patriots traded second- and seventh-round picks (60th and 238th overall) in the draft last April for Welker, it was clear they were buying Tom Brady a security blanket for five years. A quick receiver who runs route precisely and gets open in space near the middle of the field consistently is what Brady needed at the end of last year.

The fact Brady also got Randy Moss was an unexpected bonus when the Raiders and Green Bay Packers couldn’t reach agreement on a deal on the first day of the draft, and Al Davis was forced to send Moss to New England. Moss has been spectacular. Welker has been steady and hugely valuable, often times acting as a kind of extended handoff for Brady, increasing Brady’s completion percentage with the running game stopping and starting as it has all season.

I’ve given a lot of consideration to voting for Welker for MVP. Can’t do it…yet.

In the fourth quarter Sunday, with the Patriots’ unbeaten season on the line, Brady threw 16 passes. The breakdown of where they went and how successful each was:

• Welker was thrown seven balls and caught five, for 54 yards.

• Tight end Ben Watson caught two of the three balls thrown his way, for 12 yards.

Donte’ Stallworth caught both balls thrown to him, for 15 yards.

• Randy Moss caught neither of the two passes thrown his way.

Kevin Faulk and Jabar Gaffney each caught the only pass thrown to him — Faulk for 12 yards, Gaffney for 16.

I just reread what I wrote about where these passes went, with the Patriots’ unbeaten season on the line. Forget league MVP for a sec, guys. I have to seriously rethink who the most valuable Patriot receiver is. My internal monologue: “Moss caught NEITHER of the two passes thrown his way? How can he seriously be considered the MVPR over Welker??” I’m not saying that Welker is the MVPR. I’m also not saying he’s not.

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SI.com, as I mentioned in MMQB, is owned by Time Warner. There are certain things I can’t say, especially to emailers. This blog, however, is owned by me. There are no limits. Here’s what I really wanted to say to these emailers.

MOSS IS THE MVP, NOT BRADY. From Joe C. of Diamond Bar, Calif.: “Longtime reader and love your columns, especially your coffeenerdness. Maybe I am the only one who strongly believes this, but  Randy Moss is by far the MVP overTom Brady or anybody else in the NFL. Yes, Brady is having a superhuman-like season but it is due in large part to having Moss on the team as well as having the best offensive line in the NFL. Not to say Brady is a little overrated, but put any competent NFL QB in his position, add Moss, and I’m almost certain they will have the same numbers as Mr. Brady. Your thoughts?

Man, I’m so sick of being PC. Really am. Moss is a great receiver…when he tries. And, you know what, if he didn’t try once, who knows when he is trying? I recently watched every single offensive play the Patriots ran this season. I calculated Moss’ TP (try percentage) at 72%. That means Moss DOESN’T TRY 38% OF THE TIME! Brady’s TP (not counting kneeldowns) is 100%. You tell me who the MVP is. 

SHUT UP ABOUT THE COLTS’ INJURIES ALREADY. From Terry of Philadelphia: “The most annoying storyline right now in the NFL is how Peyton Manning is soooo shorthanded without  Marvin Harrison or Dallas Clark (in the San Diego game). Did I miss something? So the weight of the world is on his shoulders because he is missing one of his four (WayneAddai , Clark, Harrison) Pro Bowl offensive teammates. Isn’t he supposed be the elite offensive genius of his generation? Not having one receiver is that debilitating to him?”

Well, the MOST annoying storyline is idiots like Terry of Philadelphia thinking they know anything about the NFL. That’s not even a storyline, its an epic poem. It’s Beowulf if the monster is an annoying idiot emailer. He’s missing both his tackles, you nimrod! He’s missing his slot receiver, you tumbleweed? What is in the steamed milk in Philly? 

PAUL LOVES THE NFL NETWORK. From Paul Dagg of Kamloops, British Columbia: “Opinion on NFL Network — I am fortunate enough to get the Network here, and watch it a lot. I find the commentators excellent (love the job  Rod Woodson and Marshall Faulk do), and applaud the Network for their willingness to use good, black announcers and analysts. The reason I value the network is that I don’t watch much TV, not having time for it, but when I do I can count on being able to get some good analytical NFL coverage (my favorite sport), at least half the time I turn on the channel, and don’t have to wade through endless hours of Poker Stars, or other sports.”

Didn’t respond to this on SI.com because my response was censored and I couldn’t think of a Time Warner-acceptable response. This was the original response: 

Paul, leave it to a Canadian to talk about good Black Americans and bad Black Americans. Tiki and The Bus don’t do it for you, pal? Tiki was valedictorian of his high school class, Paul. In America – which, by the way, is the home of the NFL – that’s a pretty high honor. How dare you even discuss race in America when you come from a place where the only racial divide is between white yaks and gray yaks. 

A POX ON THE NFL’S HOUSE. From Gary Rind of Houston: “The NFL is to blame! Last time I checked, capitalism is the model our economy is built on. If the cable companies think the NFL is too expensive, too bad! Having the FCC or the courts mandate it is BS! That’s strictly so the NFL can make more dough.”

Pretty good passion out of Gary, right? Maybe if you didn’t skip that section of my column, you’d have learned something, too. But, in a country where more people watch Katie Couric than Larry King, what do you expect? 

HOW CAN MOSS NOT BE HALL-WORTHY ALREADY? From Jeremy Krieg of Lima, Ohio: “First off, I wanted to say that me and my roommates look forward to MMQB each Monday. Keep up the great work. But I do have one question. What makes you say Moss’ career is ‘borderline Canton?’ In my opinion, Moss is far and away the most physically talented WR to ever play the game (including  Jerry Rice). On top of that, by the end of his career, his numbers will be second only to Rice, unless Moss can somehow overcome the “Oakland Era.” Sure, Moss had some mess-ups in the past, but his football ability is second to none. If Moss isn’t a first-ballot Hall of Famer, then the NFL will need to look at who they let vote for the award.”

This is what I wrote. I alluded to Moss’ TP, but I didn’t want to get too technical on Jeremy. He lives with roommates, for Chrissakes:

Thanks for the kind words, and I’m a voter for the Hall. My thought: At several points in his career, Moss has been a dog on the field and not a team guy. His two years in Oakland were nightmarish, and scarred his career. Shouldn’t giving up on pass routes and not going all out for a losing team be part of the discussion for Hall worthiness? I think they should. There’s also the matter of judging a man in mid-career. None of know how long Moss will play, or whether he’ll continue to play at the other-worldly level he’s playing at now. If he plays this way another two or three years, I’ll likely think he did enough to overlook his pockmarks and vote for him. But he’s 30 years old. A great player at 30 is year-to-year, especially in the NFL. Let’s let his career play out and make a judgment on eternity when he hangs up the spikes.

NOW THESE ARE GREAT QUESTIONS. From Jason of Lincoln, Mass.: “Who is your coach of the year so far and why? And if the Patriots do go 16-0, how can it not be Belichick?”

On SI.com I sort of skirted the issue, mentioning Mike McCarthey, Dick Jauron and Bill Belichick as possibilities.  That was to build suspense. And I don’t want to influence the other voters. I’ve been told that I’m the most influential awards voter. Is it true? Who knows. Want the real answer? Belichick. I have a ‘man-crush’ on him, which means that if he were a woman, I’d be attracted to him. 

HE WANTS ROMO TO RISE ON MY MVP LIST. From Sean of Attleboro, Mass.: “You have Favre and Manning ahead of Romo in your MVP watch. I would argue that Romo is having a better year than both Manning and Favre. He has more touchdowns, yards, wins, better rating and completion percentage than Manning. He has more TDs and a better rating than Favre with the same amount of wins; Dallas would probably be undefeated if they didn’t play the Pats. What is your reasoning of having those two ahead of Romo?”

This was soundly argued and reasonably argued. But, get with it Sean. It’ll take a lot more than better stats on a team with a better record for some giggle-faced junior-playboy to leapfrog Peyton Manning and Brett Favre. When you say those names do you hear angels sing? I do. And I’ve spoken to a few people who confirm the same thing, like Paul Maguire and Chris Berman. 

When I play checkers, I say “Me Me.”

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