Unabated to the QB, Week 8: The Rolling Stone

“A man’s works often retrace the story of his nostalgias or his temptations, practically never his own history especially when they claim to be autobiographical. No man has ever dared describe himself as he is.”

—Albert Camus, “The Enigma”

How exactly will we remember Randy Moss?

Figuring out the legacies of football players is difficult. Just ask the NFL Network, which recently released its compilation of the 100 greatest players in NFL history to much criticism. Football isn’t baseball, where individual stats are fairly reliable. Football isn’t basketball, where a star player can and should take over almost every game. How do you judge a quarterback such as Joe Montana who played in a revolutionary offense with the receiver who NFL Network called the greatest player in the league’s history? Steve Young didn’t do too badly himself behind Montana, but does that take away from Joe or just mean that Steve was also really, really good?

These kinds of questions are ubiquitous in thinking retroactively about football players, and the topic of legacy is particularly problematic when it comes to wide receivers. At the receiver position, there is Jerry Rice, and there is everyone else. I’m not sure if Rice is indeed the greatest player in the history of the sport, but I am sure that the gap between him and the next-best receiver is wider than the gap between the best and second-best at any other position.

So when Randy Moss—the guy who might just be next in line behind Rice—gets waived from a 2-5 team, well, what does that mean? Is Moss officially done, and the Patriots just realized it before anyone else? Is he now in the Allen Iverson “I don’t know any MVPs that come off the bench” stage of his career (with Turkey on the horizon)?

Moss is the common link between the two best NFL offenses of the last 60 years. He is second all-time in receiving touchdowns, fifth in receiving yards, and ninth in receptions. All this despite the fact that, for three seasons in the prime of his career, he essentially didn’t try.

But that’s important to remember. Can you really consider someone who routinely gave up on plays, on quarterbacks, on teams, and on seasons one of the best ever?

I don’t know how, years from now, when he’s inevitably inaugurated into the Hall of Fame, how I’ll think about Randy Moss. I don’t think he’s a bad person, the way I do about some other greats to play the position; Moss, I think, is just weird. But I wonder if I’ll remember him more as one of the best players I’ve ever seen, or as one of the best I’ve ever seen so long as he tried.

I’m guessing the Vikings’ reasons for waiving Moss extend beyond a spat about local catering.* I figure Brad Childress thought he was having enough trouble handling one egotistical over-the-hill star, and he didn’t want Moss and Brett Favre teaming up against him.

*It’s too bad Joe Buck wasn’t in the locker room, announcing that “disgusting” scene for everyone.

I do like the fit for Randy in Tennessee, for now. Having a potential big-play guy, even just as a decoy/threat, opens up the field big-time for Vince Young and Chris Johnson. I also think Jeff Fisher has enough authority in Nashville—unlike Chilly in Minny—where Moss can’t possibly undermine him. The Titans were a good team that could make the playoffs without Moss; if it works out, they become a Super Bowl contender.

The Packers’ win over the Jets and the Saints’ defeat of the Steelers were categorized as victories for the inferior NFC, which still doesn’t look as if it boasts any of the league’s six best teams. On his weekly podcast, Bill Simmons has mentioned the Super Bowl line is only the AFC by a slim margin (1.5 or 2 the last time he brought it up), and how that seems like a slam dunk. But here’s the rub: While the six best teams may all reside in the AFC, the gap between No. 1 on that list and No. 7 (whoever you pick to lead the NFC) isn’t that large. Any one NFC team can beat any one AFC team. There’s no team that the Packers or Falcons or Giants or Saints can’t beat. And with how much easier it will be to make the playoffs and get to the Super Bowl in the NFC, maybe that gives it an edge come the first Sunday in February.

Are the Patriots as unimpressive a 6-1 team as we’ve had in a while (dating back to, you know, the Broncos last year)? We give them some added credibility because they’re the Patriots and all, but they haven’t exactly won anything in impressive fashion. Beat a bad Bengals team, lost more or less handily to the Jets, survived the Bills, beat the Dolphins in an aberrational special-teams kind of game, came back against the Ravens, almost blew it to the Chargers, and held on against the Vikings. I understand this is a franchise that has won unimpressively all the way to the championship (in 2001), but this isn’t a great football team. I don’t think they’ll be in the AFC Championship, let alone Super Bowl, and I’ll take The Field in the AFC East over New England (even if they’re obviously the favorite).

Are the Bills as impressive an 0-7 team as we’ve had in a while? They lost by a possession each to Miami and New England before the consecutive OT losses to division leaders in the AFC. If Buffalo were in the NFC West, don’t you think they could win that division?

Here’s the problem with the London game. It sucks. Every year it has sucked. You’ve got to make it a good game between good teams if you’re ever going to drum up interest, but the NFL won’t do that because it won’t cost a good team a home game.

And I’ll just reiterate what I said last year: Fill all the viable North American markets with teams (LA, obviously, and then looking into Canada and perhaps even Mexico City) before embarking on the logistical nightmare of European teams. The NBA should, can, and will do it first and better.

Jets Bash of the Week: Did you see that game? David Roth called it “the most compelling argument for suicide ever televised”, forgetting of course Election Night. ZING! So although my work was pretty much done for me by the Jets themselves, one more point: That was a rough game for Rex Ryan. The fake punt—which was called by the punter himself, not realizing it was 4th-and-18 instead of 4th-and-9—showed why you don’t let punters call fake punts on their own. And the challenge on the Tramon Williams interception (when he took it from Jerricho Cotchery) was bad on so many levels. It looked like Williams had it, it’s your second challenge, even if you win it you’re punting the ball…. Bad move.

Chiefs Plug of the Week: Right now, there’s not a whole lot of difference between 2010 Kansas City and the 2009 Jets. Sure, the defense isn’t as good, but the Jets did not have a playmaker half as good as Jamaal Charles, and Matt Cassel is better than 2009 Mark Sanchez. All this is to say, the Chiefs can go 9-7.

92-17 the last two weeks for Oakland. That’s the best point differential since (I think)…last season, when the Pats went 94-7 on Tennessee and Tampa Bay.

Is there a Chiefs-Raiders game this weekend that means something? I think there is.

Boy is it fun to watch division rivals implode. First there’s that whole Cowboys-Jaguars game—has there ever been a more enjoyable Cowboys’ season? Has there ever been a team whose futility has created this much shadenfreude? Is it even possible in other sports?–and then there’s Mike Shanahan senselessly benching Donovan McNabb AND bringing in JaMarcus Russell for a workout. Good time to have a bye week in the NFC East.

It’s also just further proof that Mike Shanahan isn’t a very good football coach. Never has been. The guy used a good/illegal-ish offensive line blocking scheme and great quarterback to win two Super Bowls and has floated on that reputation ever since. One playoff victory since then.*

*This is where you’d point out that he did get that one win over the Patriots and with Jake Plummer at QB, which I’d like to ignore here.

If the Cardinals can’t beat the Bucs at home, I really don’t know who’s going to win that division. My guess is 8-8 will get it done.

Chris Myers’ call on that Arrelious Benn catch, by the way, was awful.

Benn’s middle name is, as you’d expect, Markus. I’m not sure if this makes me like his parents for the classical reference or hate them for inverting it and spelling Arrelious Markus that way. He is, however, Russell Crowe’s favorite player.

Dallas’ loss means that, once again, I will not accurately predict all 32 teams’ NFL records. I had the Cowboys at 11-5. I do not mind being wrong. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay and St. Louis have matched the win totals I gave them preseason, and Baltimore already has its two losses. That said, I’m sticking to my Ravens-Packers Super Bowl right now.

What? The Texans AREN’T going to make the playoffs??? But they had that one good week!

NFC Listicle (introducing the Buffalo line):

16. Carolina

15. Dallas

14. San Francisco

13. St. Louis

12. Minnesota

11. Arizona

10. Detroit

9. Chicago

—Buffalo Line—

8. Seattle

7. Tampa Bay

6. Washington

5. Philadelphia

4. New Orleans

3. New York

2. Atlanta

1. Green Bay


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Weylin Ruetten on November 6, 2010 at 6:32 PM

    “Are the Bills as impressive an 0-7 team as we’ve had in a while? They lost by a possession each to Miami and New England before the consecutive OT losses to division leaders in the AFC. If Buffalo were in the NFC West, don’t you think they could win that division?”

    Agreed. Chan Gailey, coach of the year?

    also, although that McNabb benching was an incredibly stupid move that reflects Shanahan’s Napoleonic hubris, I still think it’s a stretch to say that he is not a “very good football coach.” The Redskins are not a good football team. I would be shocked in if Zorn had us at two wins at the halfway point…


    • Posted by Tim on November 8, 2010 at 6:25 PM

      Well, if Jim Zorn is the baseline for a very good football coach…

      I just think Shanahan has continued to be viewed as a big-time coach when it’s apparent he’s not. I’m not saying he’s a bad football coach, just that, if I were to rank NFL coaches in terms of quality (instead of coolness), he’d probably end up right around the middle–but still probably ahead of Chan Gailey.


  2. Posted by james Schneider on November 8, 2010 at 6:17 PM

    North Carolina, North Carolina. When College of Charleston beat North Carolina last year(when they were still “good”), I had a discussion the next day in my Earth Science class, for like, 20 minutes, and every guy agreed they were happy UNC lost.


  3. Posted by Weylin Ruetten on November 9, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    I’m merely suggesting that he has done a good job with respect to talent maximization…on balance, I would suggest that this Redskins’ season so far provide more support for Shanahan as a coach than against…I still think he’s probably a top ten coach, though that may say more about the coaches in the league than Shanahan himself…


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