What's eating Randy Moss?

BY foxsports • December 14, 2009

But please don't confuse these Pats with the 2007 version, or the back-to-back outfit that won two Super Bowls.

Bill Belichick let his team know back in September he didn't think it was good enough to win another title — that this would be a transition season — when he traded defensive end Richard Seymour away for Oakland's 2011 first-round draft pick. When you believe your team is close to winning big again, you don't trade away significant players, especially when your defense has some holes. But that was the message, plain and simple.

Belichick sent a bigger message to LB Adalius Thomas, his major 2007 free-agent signee, by sitting his butt Sunday in a pivotal game against the Panthers. The next thing Thomas gets from Belichick will be his walking papers. Well, that's the assumption whenever a coach scratches a healthy, high-priced talent.

Which brings us to Randy Moss. This will be an ugly week for Randy, especially if he feels compelled to respond to question of the day. Did he truly shut it down against the Panthers like Carolina cornerback Chris Gamble described to Boston writers? "You can tell, his body language," Gamble said. "He'd just give up a lot. Slow down, he's not going deep, not trying to run a route. Everyone who plays against him, they can sense that. Once you get into him in the beginning of a game, he shuts it down a little bit.

"You get physical with him, and I don't want to say he quits, but he kind of doesn't run the routes the way they're supposed to be run," Carolina safety Chris Harris said. "If you get a jam on him, he'll just ease up."

If you watched the game on FOX, there was a sideline moment after Tom Brady was intercepted while throwing a simple out route to Moss where the quarterback seemed to be giving Moss a pep talk. Moss didn't turn to look at Brady, but he did look rather sullen. Brady gave him one of those "I support you" love taps that athletes do, but from then on Moss was never a factor, fumbling his only reception of the game.

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 thing with Welker, though, is that he bounces right back up and keeps producing. He's missed one start this season and already has 105 catches for 1,158 yards.

Afterward, Brady said that Moss was frustrated with himself and the situation.

"It's just something you've got to fight through," Brady said. "He keeps fighting through it and you have those days where it's not all great, but you keep lining up and you keep going up. You've just got to keep fighting. I think that's the message I always try to convey to everybody."

In his last three games, Moss has six catches for 149 yards — an average of two catches per game. Belichick said of Moss that "it's important for everybody to do their best and play well this time of year ... We're in the middle of December, we have three games left and they're all important. We need everybody."

Belichick is dead right about that. 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?


Things We'd Like to Know

1. Didn't anyone ever teach Eli Manning the rules of sliding? When a quarterback slides feet first, he's automatically down where his feet hit the ground and he's physically safe. But when you go head first, you are being greedy and definitely fair game. For all the good he did Sunday night, Eli cost his Giants a touchdown opportunity with that stupid slide. Where's Joe Girardi when you need him?

2. When Eagles coach Andy Reid body bumps with DeSean Jackson on the sidelines, how high does Big Red get off the ground?

3. How do the Chiefs get 354 yards of offense and score only 10 points at home against the Bills?

4. How can Houston be 6-7 with Matt Schaub having a career year with 24 touchdown passes and already 3,814 passing yards?

5. When this season ends, who will Jerry Jones call first: Bill Cowher or Mike Shanahan?

6. Would sedatives help Rams guard Richie Incognito with his anger-management issues? How many blow-ups and personal fouls has this wild child had in his career?

7. Would Washington's Vinny Cerrato really draft Colt McCoy over Jimmy Claussen, who starred at Vinny's favorite university?


Nothing Against Marty Schottenheimer

Don't you think it's time the San Diego fans get off Norv Turner's back? Does anyone really think that Philip Rivers would be playing this well if somebody other than Turner was coaching him?

Turner may be too nice a guy to be a great head coach, but give him credit for righting the ship in San Diego after losing NT Jamal Williams, his best offensive lineman Nick Hardwick and two other starters early in the season.

The Chargers, who have won eight straight, are missing six opening-day starters right now and no one in the world can honestly argue that Shawne Merriman and LaDainian Tomlinson are close to the performers we once remembered.

As much as Turner loves to throw the ball, his team ran it down the Cowboys' throats on Sunday, controlling the clock for over seven minutes while driving 73 yards on 15 plays to ice the game on Nate Kaeding's 34-yard field goal. If the Chargers beat the Bengals next Sunday, they should be in line for the No. 2 playoff seed in the AFC, which means a bye and a playoff home game.

The best news, though, is that San Diego scares the heck out of unbeaten Indianapolis. When I was in Indiana for training camp, that's all the Colts talked about, how the Chargers had their number.


Things to be Concerned About


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