by Scott Benson
It’s been said many times by many others, but I remember the great Elvis Costello once opining that songwriters do their best work when their personal lives in are in tumult. Peace and tranquility make a lousy muse for artists like Elvis – there’d have been no ‘Watching the Detectives’ or ‘Accidents Will Happen’ if ol’ Declan had been spending his days contentedly doting on a wife, kids and a home in the suburbs.
I’m getting that, in a relative sense, of course. Our football team was undefeated through 18 games a while back, inconceiveably, yet while it was all going on, I found fewer and fewer reasons to write about them. What do you say? “They’re awesome! I think they were even more awesome this week than last!”
Nobody wants to hear that.
Not a problem anymore, folks. Since the calendar turned to February 1, it’s been all uphill for Our Beloveds. And I have never been more inspired.
That’s sick, I know.
GO YOUR OWN WAY
It’s a Seventies Saturday here on WPD! Maybe I’ll title the next bit ‘Carry On My Wayward Son’.
So the idea that Randy Moss could sign with someone other than the Patriots is now going mainstream, as the NFL Network’s Adam Schefter and other nationals have learned (as have our locals) that the Pats and Moss aren’t close to a new deal. Conventional wisdom has been that the veteran all star would gladly return to the Pats and particularly Tom Brady, and his departure after one heady season in New England would no doubt be viewed by some, even many, as a blow on the order of the one laid on them about a month ago.
As Butch Stearns is fond of saying – I’m not so sure about that.
First, let us praise Moss, a unique talent if we ever saw one. And despite his lengthy rap sheet, real or perceived, Moss has by all accounts been a great teammate and leader with the Pats. There’s no missing the connection forged with Brady. From where I sit, he played hard every week, changed the offense like no one since Brady, and would have scored the winning points of the Super Bowl had the Pats had one more defensive stop in them. Even accounting for the ugly incident in Florida, Moss wildly exceeded any expectations we could have had for him. And certainly, his departure would leave a big hole in the Patriots offense, the dominant arm of the team.
So why am I kind of hoping he gets a better deal elsewhere?
Personal bias is reason one, I admit. Given my druthers, Sam Cunningham, Andy Johnson and Don Calhoun would still be plunging off the left side for the Pats. Every once in awhile they’d change it up and go right. Their biggest wrinkle would be an occasional bootleg by Brady. It would be great.
That aside, there’s something else. Doesn’t it seem like Moss is less a player than he is an intoxicant? How do you NOT make him the focal point of your offense? His incredible hands, his uncanny ability to establish position when the ball is in the air, his still-there explosiveness – how do these things NOT become the answer to every challenge you face?
The same kind of thing has overwhelmed coaches before. Denny Green had some threatening teams in Minnesota, but in the end, weren’t they over-reliant on chucking the ball up to Moss? And Mike Tice – the Randy Ratio says it all. Yet it was never enough.
I might argue that the wheels started to come off the Pats wagon when they fell into the same trap. Certainly in the axle-busting loss to the champion Giants. Without the ability to easily put the ball in Moss’s hands, there was suddenly nothing Super about those Perfect Pats. Gradually, everything else broke down around it.
That’s how addictive Randy Moss’s game is – it even took down the mighty Bill Belichick. In the end, the Patriots were too much about offense and not enough about defense and special teams, leaving a decided list in the proverbial three-legged stool.
If he returns, how does that change? How do the Pats become a balanced team again with such a dominant presence in their midst? How does it NOT become all about Brady and Moss again?
Kyle Brady was an extremely effective blocker for the Pats, perhaps even outdoing Daniel Graham in New England annals. His size, that of an offensive tackle, brought a needed physical element to the Pats front. But he’s 36, and coming off a shoulder injury, and you can see where this is going. I doubt Brady was ever considered to be a long-term fixture along the New England line anyway.
Still, its another loss for the Pats, who don’t have anyone to fill that role on a go forward basis. They do have Dave Thomas, but he’s a different kind of player, and besides, until he actually plays for the Pats again, its hard to say where he fits in any plan.
Maybe they figure they’ll be able to rope in another veteran blocker to fill the same role as Brady, and not lose any of the production. It remains to be seen if such a player exists.
WPD……less talk, more mellow rock hits….
The rumor mill says that now that Asante Samuel has landed in Philly, the Eagles will entertain offers for their own Pro-Bowl corner, Lito Sheppard. Naturally, every observer and his brother puts Sheppard right with the Pats. Nice, neat package.
You know, acquiring Sheppard is no way to lure Moss back in the fold. I doubt Randy would relish the thought of seeing Sheppard every day in practice, not with the way Lito treated him last season.
Sheppard is said to be perturbed by his contract, which apparently nets him about $2 million annually. A change of scenery undoubtedly means a new deal, which is only practical, as Sheppard is nearing the end of his current pact. Any suitors, though, will have to consider that he’s played only 11, 13 and 10 games in his last three seasons.
So if he’s unhappy with $2 million, what does it take to improve his disposition? It doesn’t seem like doubling, or even tripling, his salary is going to work. Wouldn’t he just be looking for the same kind of money that Samuel just got? Or somewhere in that neighborhood, given their differences as far as durability and rings. That appears to have become the going rate for players of that caliber.
I guess I don’t understand how Sheppard to the Pats would work, then. It seems like if you’re just switching out players at roughly the same salary, the Pats would have been better off sticking with the devil they did know.