Peruse ESPN.com, Foxsports.com, BleacherReport, Yahoo, or Sports Illustrated for "Randy Moss" or "Minnesota Vikings analysis," and you're going to get bombarded with negativity:
"Randy Moss Misses Target for Minnesota Vikings"
"Moss Trade Reeks of Desperation"
"Randy Moss Trade: 10 Reasons It Will Ruin the Vikings Playoff Hopes"
The buck stops here. Enough with the negativity. This trade is all, 100 percent, completely, totally good for the Vikings.
Anyone who says otherwise is grasping at straws.
In 2009, the Vikings were fifth in the NFL in total offense (yardage) and second in scoring offense. In 2009, Brett Favre had a field-stretching wide receiver named Sidney Rice.
While not regarded as a "speedy" receiver like Moss, Rice is a down-field leaper—the kind of guy that allows a quarterback to "just chuck it up there dawg."
If you look at their 2009 statistics, Rice and Moss were almost identical:
Rice—83 catches, 1,312 yards, 8 touchdowns, 15.8 ypc, 19 catches of 20+ yards
Moss—83 catches, 1,264 yards, 13 touchdowns, 15.2 ypc, 18 catches of 20+ yards
Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders, a scouting service that often appears on ESPN.com, had an article that made it sound like Moss can't do what Sidney Rice did for the Vikings in 2009.
In his article, "Randy Moss Misses Target for Minnesota Vikings," Barnwell argues that Moss can't run the routes Rice ran in 2009 that helped the Vikings passing game succeed.
He bases his argument on the diminishing accuracy of Brett Favre's intermediate throws between 2009 and 2010. However, Rice was not the receiver of most of Favre's intermediate throws in 2009.
It's baffling that Barnwell would make this argument when Rice averaged 15.8 yards per catch and was fifth in the NFL in catches of 20+ yards.
The reason Rice helped make the offense so wildly successful was his ability to stretch the field and open up the intermediate passing game for the slot receiver and tight end.
Without a legitimate down-field threat in 2010 (sorry Bernard Berrian), Percy Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe have had no room to get open on intermediate routes.
However, Harvin thrived out of the slot and Shiancoe thrived in the middle of the field with Rice on the field. Moss, like Rice, thrives on the outside, deep down the field.
Even at 33-years-old, Moss commands a safety over the top and the opposing team's best cornerback. Imagine how overmatched the Vikings would be against the Jets defense sans Moss.
Darrelle Revis would line up on Harvin one-on-one with no safety help. The Jets would stack the box with eight or nine men and make Favre beat the best cornerback in the NFL.
With Moss, the Vikings become a completely different (and better) team.
No longer can teams stack the box with eight or nine men. No longer will Shiancoe be blanketed by a safety in the middle of the field.
If you haven't noticed, Adrian Peterson is running wild with eight men in the box. No one can stop him. Good luck stopping him with one less man at the line of scrimmage.
From a pure on-the-field, talent perspective, there is no way this trade is not completely positive for the Vikings. It is the best deal they could ask for.
Now, of course there's the problem of team chemistry and Moss' history as a troublemaker.
Those arguments are even easier to make.
No one in New England ever said Moss was a bad teammate. Only Teddy Bruschi (who is no longer in the locker room) had bad things to say about Moss as a teammate in New England.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick had nothing bad to say about Moss as a teammate, as early as this week.
The truth is that the Patriots have no problem cutting ties with veterans who want new contracts before they become free agents.
Richard Seymour was sent to Oakland, because he didn't want to play without a contract. Logan Mankins, considered one of the best guards in the NFL, is still holding out because he has not received a contract from the Patriots.
Moss is not the only player to express his displeasure with the Patriots brass for not getting a new contract.
You can't blame a player for not wanting to give 100 percent to a team that refuses to pay him beyond this season. If you know they don't want you back, why would you want to play for them now?
At least Moss, unlike Mankins, still showed up for practice and game day.
On top of that, Moss was very humble in his first press conference as a Minnesota Viking. He said he's "not here to be vocal" and "not here to be the focal point." He said he just wants to contribute however he can and win football games.
Moss has not had any legal troubles and has not been fined for his on-field conduct in the last few years. Yes, there was the whole restraining order issue in Florida, but that gets blown out of proportion.
The bottom line is that case was thrown out almost immediately, and Moss was never in any real trouble. Anyone can file a restraining order against anyone. Moss was never found to have done anything wrong.
He is not going to be a problem in Minnesota.
Some writers, bloggers, and fans are expressing concern over Moss' age, saying he's too old, he's lost a step, and he's not the same player he once was.
Moss actually admitted himself in his press conference that he has lost as step. But, he added that he's still one of the fastest players in the NFL even if he's lost a step.
He's right, and he can still produce.
While great receivers lose a step as they age, that doesn't seem to keep them from producing after they turn 33.
Moss is currently fifth on the all-time receiving yards list. Among the other nine players in the top 10, there are a total of 24 1,000-yard seasons after turning 33. If Moss is on par with his fellow 33 to 37-year old all-time leaders, he will rack up two or three more 1,000-yard seasons.
Some may argue that because he's a "speed" receiver, not a "possession" receiver, that his drop-off will be more drastic.
However, recall that Joey Galloway has three 1,000-yard receiving seasons since turning 33 and Terrell Owens has three as well. Both of those players were considered "down-field threat, speed receivers" like Moss in their prime.
If you're still not convinced, watch the video to the right of Moss burning Darrelle Revis and snagging a bomb from Tom Brady, one-handed. If Moss is so slow now, why did a young-buck, self-proclaimed "best corner in the NFL" like Revis pull his hamstring trying to keep up with him?
Finally, Moss has very little history of injury. In over 12 years, Moss has missed just six games spanning two seasons. That's 10 seasons with zero games missed.
The bottom line is that Moss can still produce at a high level though his speed may have diminished some, but he can still run routes, make great catches, read coverages, stay healthy, and jump out of the stadium.
Moss is playing with a chip on his shoulder. He's motivated, he's excited to be a Viking, and he's playing for a team with a dynamic running game and a strong-armed quarterback.
It's all good, folks.
This isn't a Super Bowl-bound prediction; it's not an "all is now perfect in Minnesota" claim. Rather, it's the simple, honest truth that the Vikings acquisition of Randy Moss was a great move that will only help this football team.
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