Moss: Good or Bad Move for the Niners?

March 14, 2012

Holy crud, has it really been since ’09 since I posted something here? Guess I need to stop reading about the NFL and start writing!

With so much going on, namely the Manning Sweepstakes, the thing that caught my eye today was Randy Moss’s signing with the Forty Niners — I find it an incredibly odd move for a number of reasons.

Firstly, Harbaugh strikes me as someone who has an incredibly large ego, someone who doesn’t like to be disagreed with and certainly someone who’s not willing to put up with players quitting on the field. And, as anyone who’s even remotely paid attention to the NFL can see, Moss has phoned it in on a number of teams and under a number of different coaches, among them Bill Belichick. While I’ve never been a huge fan of the Pats or of Belichick, the guy knows how to coach and I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’d say that he’s weak. Belichick demands team play and high effort and, for a few years, Moss was able to hang there. But, as was predicted the day that he was traded from the Raiders to the Pats, he began to quit. While Harbaugh seems to the be the real deal, the reality is that he’s a very young and inexperienced NFL head coach.   And, if the demands of Belichick wasn’t enough to keep Moss motivated, I’m far from convinced that Harbaugh will have better luck.  And, especially given Chris Carter’s, “Randy’s got more quit in him…” evaluation of Moss, I see this signing is little but a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.

But hold on a minute. Moss is at the end of his career, one that’s seen 7 Pro Bowls, 5 All Pro designations and, perhaps more importantly, the 2007 Pro Football Writer’s Association Comeback Player of the Year. Keeping in mid that stints with the last two teams that he’s been a part of, the Vikings and the Titans, have ended badly for him, Moss may be just humbled enough to make a run at another Comeback Player award. And, as much as he would’ve loved to play last year, there were simply no teams who were willing to take a shot on him. I imagine that comes pretty close to rock bottom for an athlete as talented as Moss and hard times have a way of changing people. All reports that I’ve seen seem to indicate that Moss still has speed and freakishly good hands, things that may add up for a successful relationship between the two parties. Given the fact that the Niners seem to have landed Moss with very little financial risk, the move may make sense.

The worst part, as I see it, is that, as the Niners feel that they have a guy who can stretch the field, I don’t think that they’re in the market any more for another top receiver. And, given the fact that they lost Josh Morgan to the Redskins, they may have just shot themselves in the foot if Moss fails to produce. At best, they’ll bring in #3 and 4 receivers such as Oakland’s Chaz Shilens to complement their existing starters but, for true impact receivers, they seem to be off the market. Good luck Harbaugh, you may need more of it than you realize.

Round 1: Smith vs Merriman

October 9, 2009

Chargers GM A.J. Smith has never been known as one who keeps his opinions to himself and, once again, he’s opened his mouth, stirring up controversy in San Diego. In yesterday’s San Diego Union-Tribune, Smith said of the Chargers recent loss to the World Champion Steelers, “Absolutely embarrassing,” and “I’ve seen us be tough and physical to soft and bewildered.” Oddly enough, Shawne Merriman has taken offense. To AP, Merriman said The only opinions that matter to me are the ones in this locker room,” and “That’s an opinion of a person, and it’s not needed,”.

Ok, how many things are wrong with this exchange? Firstly, take this out of football and put it in any other industry, say, high-tech. Imagine a CEO calling his company’s performance “embarrassing”. Then, imagine a salesguy for the company saying that the opinion isn’t needed, and that he doesn’t care about the opinion…of his boss? While it’s true that the NFL at times is more like the WWF than Corporate America when it comes to its reason for existence, there are still very basic rules of employee and management conduct that should exist in any organization and neither Smith or Merriman seem to have a grasp on that.

Secondly, the Charger D has indeed gotten kind of soft. So far this year, San Diego’s formerly top 10 defense is near the bottom of the league in both points allowed and yardage. Add to that the fact that only one of the teams that the Chargers have played, the Ravens, is better than the bottom 20 in offensive scoring and it makes up for a rather disappointing start for the Charger D. And Merriman? So far, he’s managed a total of 3 solo tackles, 5 assists and 0 sacks. Although few expected him to be the Lights Out of old this year, Charger fans were hoping for better.

As they take their bye week, the Chargers are .500, already two games behind the 4-0 Broncos. During that time, Smith needs to realize that his job is to fix things, not make them worse, and Merriman needs to stop tweeting and let his on the field play do his talking. Distractions such as this have never helped anyone put games in the win column.

Welcome to the NFL Mr. Crabtree!

October 7, 2009

The holdout’s over, Micheal Crabtree finally signed with the Niners….just about the time when he figured out that the NFC East leading Niners were doing just fine without him. In his press conference, he said that he “can’t wait to get in this locker room with his team mates,…” and “I’m doing the best job I can do. Anything the coach asks me to to….I’m doin’ it all.”. Too bad that Crabtree’s definition of “anything” doesn’t include getting on the field at a reasonable date  so that you could actually play a useful role for 16(+?) games this season.

“Mike, you dropped to #10 in the draft, possibly due in part to the feeling that you’re a prima donna, and you’ve done nothing to change people’s minds about what kind of person you are. Perhaps you can answer this for me: why in the heck would you hold out for a Larry Fitzgerald type payday when you’ve never even stepped onto the field as a professional? And, the Big 12 has been said to be the college football equivalent to Arena Ball: how do you expect your transition to go? Seriously, how many great receivers have come out of the Big 12 in recent years anyway: Mark Clayton, Brandon Jones, Roy Williams? Hardly a list of the NFL’s elite. So by all means, get your butt onto the practice field and show us what you can do. If the fans don’t give you a warm welcome or if your team mates are a bit more intentional with your hazing, don’t wonder why. Just don’t expect Singletary, the Mike who matters in San Francisco, to take it easy on you. He didn’t ease up on receivers when he was playing, don’t expect him to start now.”.

Aaron Rodgers: Still Standing in the Shadow

October 6, 2009

Aaron Rodgers could’ve done it, but he didn’t. He had the opportunity on Monday night to solidify his name in the eyes of the nation as Green Bay’s quarterback instead of the guy who followed up Brett Favre, but he didn’t. He didn’t have a horrible night but her certainly could’ve played better. Along with his near 400 yard, 2 TD night came 2 turnovers, a fumble and an interception, that led to 14 Green Bay points, and a sack in the end zone for a safety. Conversely, Favre had a near perfect night, leading his new team on drive after drive, finishing off the night with a 23-30 victory over his former team.

Favre is larger than life, a living legend and Rodgers is faced with an uphill battle. Even a quick look at how those who replace Hall of Fame quarterbacks perform is enough to convince darn near anyone of the enormity of what Rodgers is up against. In the grand scheme, Rodgers is quietly doing what he needs to do in order to make Green Bay a successful franchise and, he’s doing a very good job at it. He’s a top 10 QB in one of the greatest football towns in the US, and that ain’t bad. But much like the younger brother of the high school football star who’s voted “Most Likely to Succeed”, he’ll always struggle to remove himself from the shadow of Brett Favre.

He could have done it on Monday night, but he didn’t.

Is it time to call Jamarcus Russell a bust?

October 5, 2009

It’s becoming a common occurrence for the 2009 Raiders — Russell drops back, spots a streaking Receiver running a deep slant and fires a dart that would put German WWII era 88mm tank guns to shame. Instead of reaching its intended target however, the ball winds up being either dramatically behind or over the head of the frustrated WR.

Russell definitely has the physical abilities, those have never been in doubt, but his on the field success and consistency is quickly becoming representative of the Raider organization as a whole. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that he’s had 2 head coaches and 3 offensive coordinators during his short career. Or, that he hasn’t had the benefit of consistent experience at the WR position. Those things haven’t exactly helped his cause but, whatever the case, he’s on the hairy edge of having the “bust” label tattooed on his ever growing stomach.

He was drafted #1 for his ability to throw deep, yet a quarter of the way through the ’09 season, he remains near the bottom of the league in completions for both 20+ and 40+ yards. And, that’s to say nothing of his league worst passer rating and completion percentage. Sure, you can place part of the blame on inexperienced receivers or coaching, but when Russell constantly displays his unique ability to badly miss even the simplest of passes, it makes it pointing the finger anywhere else pretty difficult.

The buzz on Russell so far seems to be his lack of discipline — he seems entirely uninterested in doing the things that are necessary in order to succeed in the NFL. One needs only a casual look at his thighs and waistline to realize that things like healthy eating aren’t exactly high on his list of priorities. He hosted two passing camps for Raider QB’s and WR’s between OTA’s and training camp, which gave fans of the silver and black a glimmer of hope, but sadly, any positives to come out of those have yet to translate to on the field success.

Earlier this month, Forbes Magazine ranked the Raiders the least most valuable team in the NFL, hardly consistent with Davis’s “Just win baby” mentality. Jamarcus Russell is not exactly helping the organization change its ranking. Perhaps it’s too early to call him a bust. It could be that once Chaz Schilens, the Raider standout WR in the ’09 preseason,  gets back into the mix, Russell will gain the consistency and experience at the WR position that he so desperately needs. Pehaps more time with Cable will further build the base that he needs in order to fulfill the hype that surrounded him earlier in his career. Or, perhaps he’s just too darn lazy to be even a servicable quarterback in the NFL. If the later is the case, he needs to do the Raiders and the NFL a favor by voiding his contract and heading back to the homestead in Louisiana.

The NFL is a better when the Raiders are competitive and, at this point, the Raiders would be better with another quarterback behind center, even if those quarterbacks happen to have the last names of Frye or Gradkowski.