No, this is not an anti-Randy Moss column. But one that suggests, remember last season. The Oakland Raiders made a boatload of moves and fans boldly talked about a 10-win season. The trade for Moss will help, no doubt, but how much?
More on that later but the Raiders trade for Moss became official Wednesday after he was introduced at a news conference Wednesday at the team's headquarters in Alameda, CA. The Raiders sent linebacker Napoleon Harris and the seventh overall pick in the draft will go to Moss' former team, the Minnesota Vikings.
The fact that Oakland traded for Moss, who had wore out his in Minnesota, should not be a surprise because the Raiders have never hesitated to bring in players who other teams thought were too much of a problem. See Warren Sapp, who was introduced in a similar setting nearly one year ago at this time. Who's next? Ricky Williams?
Of course, it is somewhat telling that most people feel that Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson has also overstayed his welcome in Oakland. Even though the team has resigned Woodson as a "non exclusive rights franchise" player, the Raiders still might possibly try trading him. There's a reason for that because Woodson's opinion of himself has not matched his performance in recent years. Oakland got made other moves to get under the salary cap – releasing running back Tyrone Wheatley and defensive tackle John Parrella.
The biggest difference, however, in acquiring Moss is that the Raiders are getting him at a point in his career where he can still be an impact player. So, he might just be worth the gamble. Sapp has been in a four-year decline while Woodson, contrary to what some people think, is not the defense's saving grace. They are bad with him. They are bad without him.
Moss, on the other hand, should fit right in with the Raiders in ways that go beyond his mercurial image. With Moss teaming with recently resigned wide receiver Jerry Porter and quarterback Kerry Collins, the Raiders are really turning back the clock in terms of the vertical passing attack.
Having said that, the question becomes will he really fit right in or will he drive even the Raiders nuts? Fair question, since Woodson and Sapp have managed to do so. Moss had his share of incidents in college and they did not stop in the pros. Among those antics were squirting a water bottle at a referee, flapping his gums at corporate sponsors with profanity, leaving the field before a game ended and most recently faking a mooning gesture at Green Bay Packer fans.
Well, as long as Moss produces and the Raiders succeed as a team, his antics can be overlooked. However, simply acquiring Moss alone is not going to markedly improve a team that has combined to go 9-23 the last two years. The Raiders still need to acquire a running back who can consistently churn out productive yardage and they still help pretty much across the board defensively.
With Moss, the Raiders might have a chance to outscore some teams but at some point you have to stop teams – a big reason the Vikings could not become a Super Bowl winning team. Moss' presence will open up running lanes because teams will be less inclined to play eight guys near the line of scrimmage. The problem is that Oakland's running game, which finished last in the NFL, was woefully unproductive. To that end, expect rumors of New York Jets running back Lamont Jordan signing with Oakland to intensify.
Conventional wisdom suggests that the game has changed and that the passing game is the way to win games. Unfortunately, people who say that are missing the point. Do you need to be balanced? Yes.
However, teams are still far more likely to win with a 100-yard rusher than a 300-yard passer. Look no further than in 2004, when teams with a 100-yard runner won 75% percent of the time while teams with 300-yard passers won only about 40% percent of the time. "Stats are misleading" or "the only stat that matters is winning" you might say. Well, when it leads to wins three times in every four games, that's pretty telling.
Again, Moss is a splashy move but not the last one Oakland needs to make.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org