Tyler Dunne for BuffaloFootballReport.com
Terrell Owens could have less than 1,000 yards and still drastically change Buffalo's offense. Lee Evans has never had a legitimate No. 2 receiver diverting attention away from him. Considering Evans does most of his damage on deep balls, he could erupt this year. If nothing else, T.O. will be one ultra-valuable, $6.5 million decoy.
|Lee Evans |
(Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Look for Evans to blow up this season and Trent Edwards to clearly ascend as the face of the franchise.
Yes, T.O. definitely brings a catalytic effect to Buffalo's offense, but Randy Moss is vital to everything New England's high-octane 'O' does. The days of grinding it out with Antowain Smith or Corey Dillon in barn-burning, remote-flipping fashion are long gone.
These Pats go airborne.
Tom Brady, arguably the most intelligent quarterback ever, has always been able to dissect defenses underneath. When Moss was acquired via grand larceny from Oakland, New England's offensive complexion changed. No longer did New England need to play a field position game, no longer did they need to passively protect leads. Instead, Bill Belichick could put his foot the throats of opponents. With Brady lobbing oops to Moss, the Patriots won in embarrassing fashion all season - 38-7, 52-7, 56-10, basically until Belichick got bored.
Any other team would freak out over this uncertainty at running back. The Patriots have a hodgepodge mix of B-rate backs in Fred Taylor, Laurence Maroney and Sammy Morris. Nobody's in line to carry the ball 20+ times a game for the next five years. Maybe Maroney, but he hasn't stayed healthy.
Doesn't even matter in Pats land.
The offense flows through Moss, first and foremost. Moss sets the tone for Wes Welker's dink-n-dunking in the slot. T.O. may open new doors up for Evans and the running game but last year hinted that his play may be on the decline. Owens led the league in drops and only eclipsed 100 yards twice (including one in a 44-6 spanking to Philadelphia). Two years ago, Moss had arguably the best season ever for a wide receiver with 1,493 yards and 23 touchdowns.
More importantly, the Patriots offense went from excellent to intergalactic with Moss. One blitz-dizzying loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl prevented the unit from going down as the best ever.
And even when Brady suffered an ACL injury, Moss kept the team in playoff contention all year. New England should've withered into obscurity when Bernard Pollard entered Bill Buckner territory. Without Moss at receiver, no way does Matt Cassel make $14.6 million as the Kansas City Chiefs' starting quarterback next year. He would have toiled into life-backup mode. Maybe Cassel should withdraw 5 percent for Moss.
Because nobody would be surprised if Cassel flopped harder than Scott Mitchell in Kansas City.
Randy Moss remains the most ungodly talent the wide receiver position has ever seen - Kobe's hops, Jamaican-sprinter stride and baby-soft hands. As long as Belichick keeps a fatherly check on Moss' antics, he'll continue to rev this offense's engine to new heights.
Randy Moss #81 and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots watch the defense in action against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on December 23, 2007 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Patriots won 28-7. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jon Scott for Patriots Insider
Randy Moss vs T.O. straight up on a statistical level seems like a good matchup. As badly as Owens would like nothing better than to one-up Moss on the field, it's a virtual certainty he'll end up last in that two-man race in every opinion poll.
That Moss's place in history will be cemented in the Hall of Fame someday has to be motivation to T.O. who fancies himself as one of the best receivers in the game. The trouble is, T.O. has become such a distraction to his team, that offensive coordinators, head coaches and the quarterbacks charged with getting him the ball have lost interest in having him on their side.
After reviewing the statistics, I was surprised. These two are very close to each other in terms of statistical impact on the teams they played for the past few seasons.
|Tony Romo can only watch time run out as the Patriots demolished Dallas 48-27 in the battle of "81's"|
(AP Photo/LM Otero)
T.O. could give the Bills an immediate boost on offense if Bills QB Trent Edwards doesn't constantly look him off at the first sign of double coverage. Edwards also has to figure out how to work No. 81 into the mix without having him think that Edwards is conspiring with his tight end to draw up plays without Owens in them. (LINK)
For Moss there's still the stigma of "the Randy Ratio" from his days in Minnesota. Those days were long gone by the time he left, but some refuse to let it go. Many cite his behavior in Oakland as part of the Randy Ratio, but that's not the case.
"I didn't really care much about the Randy Ratio when it was brought up," Moss told the AP in 2003. "I just wanted to win."
Moss' attitude didn't follow him to New England where he went on winning with a Hall of Fame worthy QB and his backup. His arrival has had a significant impact on New England's offense.
Buffalo's passing attack has relied on the legs of Lee Evans who was the top receiver before T.O. arrived. If Owens clamors for the ball at Evans' expense, it's likely going to hinder rather than help the offense. Evans gained 1,017 of Buffalo's 4,882 yards of offense last year, roughly 21%. By comparison, T.O managed 1,052 of Dallas' 5,512 yards, about 19%. Similar numbers, but a closer look reveals Buffalo only passed for 3,040 yards making Evans' impact equal to 33.5% of the passing offense. Meanwhile Dallas passed for 3,789 yards making T.O.'s impact 27.7%.
Moss managed 1,008 of New England's 5,847 totals yards on offense for 17% of the Patriots attack under Matt Cassel. But his presence allowed Wes Welker to gain 1,165 yards of that offense (20%). More importantly, the attention Moss received opened up things for Cassel and the other receivers.
|Circus catches are the norm for Randy Moss, seen here with another one-handed grab|
Getting back to the comparison. The Patriots passed for 3,569 yards in 2008, giving Moss 28% of the team's total passing attack compared to T.O.'s 27.7%. Again, Pretty equal.
But you need to consider that Moss didn't have his starting QB Tom Brady, while T.O. had one of the top 10 QB's in the league with Tony Romo. To be fair, you need to review the previous season.
In 2007 with Tom Brady New England managed 6,580 total yards; 4,731 yards, 243 first downs, and 50 TDs through the air. Of those Moss contributed 1,493 yards (31.5%), 74 FDs (30.5%), 23 TD (46%). The Patriots had another receiver with over 1,000 yards in Wes Welker (1,175), and their next two receivers (Gaffney and Stallworth) added another 1,000 yards combined (1,146)..
In 2007 Dallas managed 5,851 total yards; 4,105 yards, 217 first downs and 36 TDs through the air. Owens contributed 1,355 yards (33%), 69 FDs (31.8%) and 15 TDs (41.7%). Like New England, the other leading Cowboys receiver, Jason Witten, added over 1,000 yards (1,145) whle the next two leaders (Hurd and Creighton) managed over 1,000 yards combined (1,111).
When you look at the numbers, the receivers (and the offenses) are well matched based upon percentages, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Philadelphia made it to a Super Bowl on the back of Brian Westbrook (T.O.s ankle injury year) and the Cowboys made the post season two of the three years prior to his arrival.
The three seasons before Moss' arrival in Foxboro, the Patriots won the Super Bowl against T.O. (2004), lost to Denver in the division round (2005) and then got bounced in the AFC Championship by the Colts (2006)
Who's more important? You can argue either way, but I would say Moss because since before his arrival the Patriots had only one receiver catch over 1,000 yards in a season (Troy Brown 2001) and since his arrival they've had two each year with 2009 looking like it will happen again. He's completely changed the way the Patriots do business on offense and as long as he's on the field New England has the ability to score on a single play.