Many, many ways to look at this Randy Moss trade. First thought: the Patriots just made themselves worse, because they lost one of their best players. It’s that simple. In 2006, the Patriots scored 385 points, an average of just over 24 points per game. Not bad at all. Then they went out and got Randy Moss (and Wes Welker) and they scored 589 points. A 204 point increase. Per game, they went up by 14 points. Moss is what you call an impact player.
So, what impact was he having in the locker room and behind that scenes that was so detrimental that it negated all his positives on the field? Must have been pretty bad. The only reason to make a trade is to improve your team, either now or in the future, or both. Some will argue, or maybe it’s only one will argue (Mike Felger) that the team instantly improved by getting rid of Moss. It’s the Alex Rodriguez theory. When he left the Mariners, they won 116 games. The Rangers won 91 games the year before he arrived, and averaged 90 wins while he was there. And for his first few years in New York, they couldn’t win it all. Moss has never won it all either. Maybe A-Rod and Moss are all style and no substance. And teams that are truly “teams” are actually better without a supremely talented “stats” guy. Even against the Jets, we all thought we saw the Jets defense play better in the second half after they had lost their best player, Darrelle Revis. It sounds a bit illogical, but maybe there’s something to it.
Fans hoping that there is will point to the Patriots three Super Bowl wins – all without Moss, and all without anyone even approaching Moss’s abilities. But if we stick to this team concept, we have to remember that the Patriot defenses in 2003 and 2004 were ranked one and two, respectively, in points allowed. Right now, the Patriots are ranked 25th. They’re going to have score more points this year than they did at their peak, and they just made that a lot harder.
This is nothing like when the Patriots suspended Terry Glenn early in the 2001 season and then went on to win the Super Bowl. Glenn wasn’t even close to Moss’s talent level. He never caught more than 6 touchdown passes. In fact, it’s a flawed comparison, because the Patriots are much better offensively now than they were in 2001. That team had the dink and dunk version of Tom Brady, and all he really had was Troy Brown. Brown’s 101 catches was 50 more than the next best receiver on the team, David Patten. Wes Welker is a better version of Brown and Brady is a better version of himself.
This trade shows an awful lot of confidence in Brandon Tate and the tight ends, but it could be too much confidence too soon. The kids look good, but how much were they helped by the presence of Moss. If we’re to believe that Vince Wilfork is playing great football even when he doesn’t have a tackle or an assist, because he ties up two and three guys, then what about Moss. If he’s double-covered throughout the game, isn’t he playing great football even when he goes without a catch? What if, without Moss, teams are able to take away or severely limit Welker? Are Tate and Aaron Hernandez ready to step up and carry the offense? We’ll see.
Finally, there’s either arrogance working here or humility. Bill Belichick may think he’s good enough, and his team is good enough to overcome the loss of an impact player and still go on to win the Super Bowl. That would be arrogance. Or, he may think the Patriots weren’t good enough to win the Super Bowl even with Moss, so they’re better off trading him for someone who can help them down the road, at a time that they can win a Super Bowl. That’s humility. Yeah, you’re right. Go with the first one.