Some scoffed when Mike Tice said he wanted Randy Moss involved in 40 percent of the team's plays in 2002.
Even some in the locker room scoffed, since no wide receiver has ever been that much of a team's offense in the NFL -- yet.
While 40 percent may be unrealistic, Tice has had the coaching staff look at what changed in 2001 from Moss' first three years and what must change this year.
Here is what VU has learned top that list:
BIG PLAYS: In his first three years, Moss averaged more than 25 receptions of 20 yards or more. Last year, that number fell in half -- 12 catches of 20 yards or more (six at home, six on the road). For Moss to be a big-play threat, more deep passes or isolation plays need to be called to get him in open space.
CONTINUE BUILDING FROM LATE IN 2001: Moss had only two touchdowns in his first seven games. In the last nine games, he had eight touchdowns. While some of them came at meaningless times, TDs are what motivates Moss and finding a way to get him in the end zone is key. With Cris Carter gone, Moss will likely take his role as the Red Zone receiver of choice inside the 10-yard line -- something he's never been regularly in the past.
MAKE HIM A BIGGER FACTOR IN DIVISION GAMES: With four-team divisions in the NFL now, those six games will be even more critical, since they hold all tie-breaker advantages to start. While Moss' receptions were similar vs. division and non-division opponents (40 in the NFC Central, 42 outside the Central), his yardage and TD numbers paled vs. the Packer, Lions, Bears and Bucs. In eight games vs. the Central, he had 546 yards and three TDs. In eight games outside the division, he had 687 yards and seven TDs. For Moss to be a game-breaker, he must post numbers vs. the Packers, Lions and Bears.
GET HIM INVOLVED EARLY: In three games in 2001, Moss didn't have a reception in the first quarter. In seven games, he had two or fewer catches at halftime. The Vikes lost six of those seven games. That must change. Moss is a player who feeds off emotion, and the coaching staff will need to find a way to get him involved early.
GET HIM ACTIVE ON GRASS: Moss is a speed receiver who excels on turf, but his numbers on grass last season were pedestrian. In five games on natural turf, he scored just two touchdowns and averaged just four catches for 59 yards. In 10 games he played indoors last year, he averaged 5.5 catches a game and 85 yards, scoring seven touchdowns. For Moss to be dominant, he must become an outdoor threat as well as an inside man.
There are other points the coaching staff has made, including the improvement coming on the offensive line, speed at RB and WR that will take some pressure off of the double-teams that hounded Moss last year and the fact that Daunte Culpepper will be given more opportunities once he's 100 percent and back on the field. But, for Tice to live up to his prediction, he must take what his coaches have uncovered in film study and put them into practice. If not, Moss will continue to struggle and have "sub-par" seasons, if you can consider 82 catches for 1,233 yards and 10 touchdowns sub-par -- although everyone around the NFL has found a way.
Tice and Moss: A Primer
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