Defending Randy Moss

When word broke that the Oakland Raiders had acquired wide receiver Randy Moss from the Minnesota Vikings in early March, the rest of the AFC West went on notice. That included the Kansas City Chiefs who added safety Sammy Knight and cornerback Patrick Surtain to be part of the forumla that stops one of the best offensive players in the NFL.

Once of the greatest challenges facing the Kansas City Chiefs this coming season is facing a beefed up Oakland Raiders squad featuring the indomitable wide receiver Randy Moss. Since coming into league in 1998, Moss has abused opposing defenses with the Vikings, and now he is bringing his own brand of secondary shredding talent to terrorize the AFC West. This news was particularly distressing to the Chiefs nation, having the absolute worst defense statistically in football.

While the Chiefs will be significantly better on defense this season, the prospect of facing a player that has the bane of defensive coordinators across the NFL, twice, is a less than appealing thought to say the least. I'd be willing to bet that Moss, not the holidays, is the driving force of antacid sales at the end of the year. How do you defend a receiver who can fight off press coverage, eat a cornerback's cushion in the blink an eye, and out-jump basically every defensive back in the league?

If history has shown us anything, it's that defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham can design a scheme to defend any team. Remember the Rams game in 2000? Cunningham orchestrated a defensive scheme that absolutely befuddled the league's most explosive offensive until the game was well in hand. How about the Falcons game last season? In a season riddled with forgettable defensive efforts, Cunningham devised a scheme that left Michael Vick, the NFL's most dynamic quarterback, with sour memories of his first Arrowhead experience.

Randy Moss, on this Raiders team, has his vulnerabilities. The keys to stopping the unstoppable player, contrary to belief, lie in the play of the front seven, which if it plays well, can make the defensive backs' jobs much easier.

So what are the keys to stopping Moss?

Get to the Quarterback
Randy Moss is at his most dangerous when running deep routes. You cannot allow the quarterback the time to survey the field and locate Moss streaking down the sideline. The defensive line and blitzing linebackers have to harass Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins. Collins is a solid veteran quarterback with a strong arm, but on any given play he is an easier player to stop than Moss. If the Chiefs can consistently get to the quarterback, it forces the receivers, Moss included, to run shallower routes. On blitzes, Collins will have to resort to finding the hot receiver, which chances are, won't be Moss.

Stop the Run
The Chiefs cannot allow the Raiders to establish the run and get the play action game going. If Oakland can effectively run play action, it allows Moss the time to get deep, where Kerry Collins can lob it downfield where Moss can out jump cornerbacks and safeties. By making the Raiders one dimensional, it becomes easier to defend the passing game.

Hit Him
I'm not suggesting Randy Moss is afraid of contact, but its been proven when you hit him often; he's less effective on any given Sunday. Every opportunity a player gets a clean shot, hit him and make him pay for catching the ball. On running plays when he's blocking downfield, hit him all the way down the field. The Chiefs safeties must make sure they make good, hard contact with Moss. When the ball is the air, don't try to jump and deflect the ball or gamble on the interception, unless the player is in perfect position, and even then, hit him. The Chiefs have to get him thinking about contact, if that's possible, particularly if the defense is forcing the shorter routes. If you can somehow disrupt his concentration, it makes Moss a less effective player. Of course, if the above keys are ineffective, there's always prayer and the Chiefs will find out soon enough about Moss when they face-off in week #2. But their might be hope in their second meeting in November in regards to stopping Moss. Over the last five years, Moss has averaged less than five catches and 70 yards in outdoor stadiums after October 31. So let's hope for a cold blustery day come November 4th in Kansas City.


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