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Old 12-06-2007, 11:35 AM   #1
alittlejazzbird
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Default MSNBC: Moss' Diminished Effort Leaves Pats Vulnerable

And so, just like in Minnesota and Oakland, it begins again. The veneer is starting to crack, ever so slightly. Proof, once again, that who you are is who you are, no matter how carefully you apply lipstick to that pig.
************************************************** ****************
Opinion: Moss' diminished effort leaves Pats vulnerable
Bid to go unbeaten also weakened by inconsistent run defense, run offense
By Steve Silverman

It has been a magnificent season for the New England Patriots. Winning every week. Usually by huge margins. And with the season three-quarters complete, a perfect season is on the horizon.

They have survived ridiculously close calls against the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens, so it should be smooth sailing from here, right?

Not so fast. Even though it would be nice to see somebody knock those smug smiles off of the ancient 1972 Miami Dolphins, the Pats are starting to show a few cracks.

The biggest and most important fracture may be coming from their most important player ? Randy Moss. Tom Brady may be getting near unanimous support for MVP honors this season as he chases down many of Peyton Manning?s passing records, but he wouldn?t even be close if Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth weren?t on hand this season. Moss has brilliant numbers this season, having caught 75 passes for 1,129 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has bounced back from a couple of subpar years and looks every bit as dangerous as he did in his most productive seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

But against the Eagles and Ravens, Moss has been held to seven catches for 77 yards and just one touchdown. More than that, Moss was criticized by TV analysts for not running out all of his assignments with a full commitment following the Eagles game.

Vikings and Oakland Raiders fans know how these things get started with Moss. Instead of running out his assignments at full speed, he does a half jog when there is a running play to the other side of the field or he is not the primary receiver. This tendency has started to come to the surface again and when he was called out, Moss began a bit of a sulk.

Actually, his sulk began before that. After the Patriots? epic win over Indianapolis in Week 9, Moss was the centerpiece of a joyous locker room. He was listening to his music and joking with his teammates, but he refused to answer any questions from the media. ?No, I?m not talking to anyone,? Moss shouted to all the reporters present.

Oh, it?s understandable why Moss wouldn?t want to talk. The Patriots had just beaten their archrivals on the road, kept their perfect record in tact and were going into their bye week. Who wouldn?t be aggravated by those circumstances? That?s ridiculous.

Moss? attitude started to surface right after the bye week. Looking at tape from the Week 12 game against the Eagles provided numerous examples of a less-than-determined Moss. Brady went so far as to defend Moss in public, but the idea that he needed to do that shed even more light on the situation.

This is very similar to the criticisms that surfaced when he was with the Vikings and dominated during his two years in Oakland. Coach Bill Belichick is not going to take in-house issues and make them public but he is not going to stomach any downturn in Moss? attitude. Belichick would like to see the club?s powerful veteran leadership get the message to Moss before any significant harm is done. But it?s a fine line with Randy because he doesn?t exactly enjoy being told what to do or how to behave.

When the videotape shows anything less than top effort, the results are bound to bring resentment from teammates who bust their gut on every play. Resentment is not a welcome ingredient for a team trying to win the Super Bowl and do it in undefeated fashion.

That is not New England?s only problem. Willis McGahee of the Ravens ran at will Monday night and that?s because the Patriot defensive front simply got handled. Safety Rodney Harrison had barely come out of the shower when he made this shocking admission. ?We got manhandled out there,? Harrison said. ?They took it to us.?

Belichick said basically the same thing. ?There were no surprises or secrets out there,? he said. ?They blocked hard and they blocked well. They also ran the ball well.?

The Patriots have lost some team speed in recent weeks as speedy linebacker Rosevelt Colvin went on IR. While there are many great players on the defense, the loss of Colvin is significant because he moves so well. The Ravens noticed this and exploited it. The Pittsburgh Steelers will attempt to do the same Sunday and they have the kind of blocking and a running back in Willie Parker to cause even more havoc.

The Patriots offense has been dynamic and devastating, but there are some troubling aspects to the running game. Laurence Maroney is supposed to be a stud but he has rushed for 511 yards and just two TDs. Since returning from the bye week, Maroney has averaged 3.2 yards per carry against the Buffalo Bills, 3.1 against the Eagles and 3.4 against the Ravens. He hasn?t had a run of more than 10 yards in those games.

The Pats don?t need Maroney to dominate the scoreboard, but they will need him to ground out first downs, become a factor in the red zone and run the ball in the fourth quarter of close games. He has not been doing those things with much consistency.

There are issues as the Patriots continue to stay undefeated ? Moss? less-than-stellar effort, a slower run defense and inconsistency running the football. All of these factors could knock a seemingly impervious Patriots team off of their perch and lead those aging Floridians to their champagne bottles once again.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22116521/
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Old 12-06-2007, 12:04 PM   #2
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Default Re: MSNBC: Moss' Diminished Effort Leaves Pats Vulnerable

Nice find, aljb.

Now, this brings up an interesting possibility. Do you think Belichick might design a play action away from Moss, which involves him faking a slack and then blowing long?

Sure seems like the kind of thing Billy Boy would do.
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Old 12-06-2007, 12:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: MSNBC: Moss' Diminished Effort Leaves Pats Vulnerable

I agree the Randy is taking plays off again story could be: 1) a set up; or 2) an effort to motivate Moss.

IMO pattterns to take advantage of Troy's and Smith's aggressivess are another possibiity.

Smith guarantees a victory, Pats are old & tired, Bad Randy has returned stories do not give me a good vibe about this game.
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Old 12-06-2007, 12:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: MSNBC: Moss' Diminished Effort Leaves Pats Vulnerable

Quote:
The Pats don?t need Maroney to dominate the scoreboard, but they will need him to ground out first downs, become a factor in the red zone and run the ball in the fourth quarter of close games. He has not been doing those things with much consistency.
Nope. Not going to do that against the Steelers run D.

I expect to see a lot of play action dumps to Faulk and this is what seems to crucify D's in the Pats most recent games. We have to stay in Fairy Tom's grill the entire game and make him hear footsteps. A frustrated and pissed off Brady is OUR best weapon.

As for Moss - no surprise about his 'tude. When the Pats were dominating every opponent up until a few weeks ago, all was well in Randyland. Neutralize him and the Pats' O and he pouts like a spoiled child. I think Ike is going to make Randy's life a living hell on Sunday.
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Old 12-06-2007, 12:20 PM   #5
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Default Re: MSNBC: Moss' Diminished Effort Leaves Pats Vulnerable

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Originally Posted by Mosca View Post
Now, this brings up an interesting possibility. Do you think Belichick might design a play action away from Moss, which involves him faking a slack and then blowing long?

Sure seems like the kind of thing Billy Boy would do.
Hmm, not a bad idea. But he'll have to sell it to Randy first, and we can already see how well Randy takes direction.
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Old 12-06-2007, 12:23 PM   #6
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Default Re: MSNBC: Moss' Diminished Effort Leaves Pats Vulnerable

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Neutralize him and the Pats' O and he pouts like a spoiled child. I think Ike is going to make Randy's life a living hell on Sunday.
I hope you're right, HTG. On paper, Ike loses that matchup in almost every way - height, speed, etc. He's going to need a career game, at least until he beats Randy a couple times and the sulking begins...
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Old 12-06-2007, 12:27 PM   #7
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Default Re: MSNBC: Moss' Diminished Effort Leaves Pats Vulnerable

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Originally Posted by Atlanta Dan View Post
I agree the Randy is taking plays off again story could be: 1) a set up; or 2) an effort to motivate Moss..
I think it's more the media's need to instantly pounce on any little tidbit they can find in order to make a story. And only Randy motivates Randy; that much we know from his Oakland days.

As for me, I have more of a bad vibe about all the media people who are now expecting the Steelers to win than I do about Randy's loafing. I wanted to come into this game being given absolutely no chance in the world to win it.
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