Randy Moss and the Most Overrated New England Patriots in Franchise History
Is it possible to be simultaneously fantastic and overrated? Yes.
Take Tony Romo, for example. Romo has a tremendous skill set, but he has a knack for collapsing in December. Plus, he has only has one playoff victory on his resume. Still a damn good quarterback, but there's a limit to how much praise he deserves.
If Romo were considered a mid-level quarterback, then this wouldn't be an issue. Thing is, Romo is generally considered a high-end quarterback. That's what makes him overrated.
Let's switch gears to basketball just for a minute. Look at Derrick Rose. Rose is a phenomenal basketball player, but the guy's overrated. Chris Paul's stats in 2007-'08 were just as impressive as Rose's stats in 2010-'11, but Paul didn't win MVP and Rose did.
During Rose's MVP run last year, Russell Westbrook was just as dynamic and brilliant, and his numbers were comparable. Westbrook was knocked down a few rungs on the MVP ladder because he had Kevin Durant on his team, while Rose excelled without another superstar on his squad. But to use that logic against Westbrook is to essentially penalize him for having a good team. That's just silly.
Rajon Rondo gets the same unfair treatment. Year after year, Rondo gets snubbed from the MVP race because he has three future Hall of Famers on his team, which gives the impression that it's somehow easier for him to assist, rebound, cook up triple doubles and play with heart. It's ridiculous.
We have this perception that Derrick Rose is the best point guard in the NBA, but the truth is that the league is peppered with floor generals who are just as good or better.
But I digress. Back to football.
The Patriots are one of the greatest organizations in the history of sports. They're considered an elite team, and they truly are. In fact, they're the definition of elite. As a whole, nothing about this franchise is overrated. And yet, a handful of overrated players have waltzed through their halls over the years.
All the players on this list were (or still are) good, some even terrific, but they're still overrated. Just like Romo and Rose, great talent can still get blown out of proportion a little too wildly.
Here are the most overrated New England Patriots in franchise history.
I'm getting a little tired of picking on Chad Ochocinco, mostly because I like the guy so much. I want to be his biggest fan. I root for him every week. There's nothing I want more than to see him contribute to a Patriots banner.
I get no pleasure out of beating him up, but I have to. When Rob Gronkowski went down with his injury in the AFC championship last year, the Patriots were really left in the lurch. New England's offensive prowess was mangled heading into the Super Bowl. Had Ochocinco been more productive, he could've been the missing link and helped win a fourth ring for Tom Brady.
The Patriots needed a hero during the Super Bowl. Why wasn't Ochocinco that hero?
Ochocinco is a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All Pro. In 2006, he led the league in receiving with 1,369 yards. In 2007, he had 93 receptions for 1,440 yards. In 2009, he had 72 receptions for 1,047 yards.
He's a stud.
When you put this guy in a Patriots jersey and pair him with arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, he should have more than 276 yards on the season.
Like I said, I hate beating up on the guy, but his performance last season was unacceptable. There's no logical reason why Sterling Moore had a more profound impact on the 2011 season than Chad Ochocinco, but I suppose football isn't always logical.
Here's hoping that Ochocinco defies the odds and steps up in 2012. He might be on this list right now, but I'll still be rooting for him. Lists can always be changed.
Randy Moss's most profound achievement came in 2007 when he contributed to a potent team offense which helped the Patriots go 16-0 during the regular season.
That year, Moss had 1,493 yards and 23 touchdowns. He collected 183 yards in a single game against the Jets, 145 yards against the Colts, 135 yards against the Steelers and 100 yards against the Giants. In nine different games, he had 100 or more yards. He was an animal.
But in the '07 playoffs, Moss racked up a total of just 94 yards. His postseason yards per game were 14, 18 and 62, respectively. Do these disappointing numbers overshadow his awesome performance during the regular season? Well, yeah, it does.
In some ways, the Patriots' perfect regular season is very meaningful, but in other ways, it's totally worthless. I'd much rather have snuck into the '07 playoffs as a wild-card team and won the big enchilada instead of steamrolling to a bye and losing in the Super Bowl.
When I think back to the '07 season, I feel nothing. Perhaps I'm selling the perfect season short, but all I take away from that year is that the Giants were world champions and the Patriots were not.
Like Moss's outstanding numbers, that perfect regular season is nothing more than a statistical badge of honor. At the end of the day, I'd rather have a ring than a badge. I think the Giants feel the same way.
In addition to Moss's lack of rings, there's a lack of leadership and poise. The guy has a tendency to mentally check out of games, sometimes for long stretches at a time.
Great players never roll over; they never check-out; they never daydream on the field or on the sidelines. Great players stay engaged, even when they don't get the touches or contracts they want. That's why I'd take Victor Cruz over DeSean Jackson any day of the week, and that's why I didn't want to see Randy Moss return to New England.
On the flip side, I will give Moss his proper due. Moss was enormously talented. He oozed skill out of his pores. He was born to catch the ball.
But the great ones show great poise and win championships. Moss had some great years, but teams don't hang banners for receiving yards. At some point, Moss's name will be floated around in the Hall of Fame discussion. I just don't see how his entrance into those immortal halls could be justified.
I'll always think of Moss as one of the most dynamic regular season receivers in Patriots history, but I will never think of him as one of this franchise's most important players.
There's a reason why Matt Light played his entire career on one team and why Albert Haynesworth played on four. It's about talent, but it's also about personality. When you're the complete package, teams make the extra effort to keep you around for as long as possible. When you're not the complete package, you get shuffled around.
Occasionally, you'll find the rare situation where a great player like Wayne Gretzky ends up getting bounced around for a variety of reasons and extenuating circumstances. But in most cases, the best of the best stay right where they are, at least through their peak years.
The Haynesworth situation was not a Gretzky-type of situation. On the contrary, Haynesworth was shipped around because he was a headache to deal with.
A series of ugly events culminated in 2006 with the now infamous stomping incident, whereby Haynesworth blatantly put a violent gash in Andre Gurode's head with his foot. To this day, it's a sickening thing to watch.
As a free agent in 2009, Haynesworth added to his negative perception by cashing in on a whopping contract with Washington. He was a beast, but still, $100 million is a rather staggering chunk of change to spend on a migraine. By 2010, he was already showing signs of being washed up.
When New England acquired Haynesworth in 2011, Patriot Nation had a mixed bag of emotions. The guy was supremely talented, and the fans wanted to win, but bad luck seemed intentionally glued to this guy. Even still, it's tough to turn down an overall 15th pick who's been to two Pro Bowls and has the potential to play like a stud.
But of course, it all went south. Following a blistering argument between Haynesworth and defensive line coach Pepper Johnson, Haynesworth was back on the market after only a few months of wearing Patriot blue.
But honestly, it was about much more than just a silly argument.
After all, Tom Brady got into a vicious verbal brawl with Bill O'Brien and then hugged it out afterwards. It's natural for tempers to flare in this game.
Truth is, Haynesworth's fire was gone. It was apparent to everyone who watched him play. The guy hung around this team like a necklace made of garlic cloves.
After being released by New England, he was claimed by Tampa Bay, then was quickly released again.
If there's such a thing as wasted talent, then Haynesworth is it. Hopefully, history will look back on him with a realistic view of his character. But still, it's always troubling when athletes earn their fortunes based on inflated reputations instead of concrete results.
If you're a Raiders fan, you probably love Jim Plunkett. But if you're a Patriots fan, you're probably a little irritated by Plunkett.
Coming out of Stanford University with a Heisman Trophy on his resume, Plunkett had an Andrew Luck-type of mystique around him. Expectations were high. So high, in fact, the Patriots selected him as the overall No. 1 pick of the 1971 draft.
Plunkett threw for over 2,000 yards in each of his first four seasons with the Patriots. But by his fifth season, he wasn't playing as much, and his yardage was down to 571. He threw only three touchdowns, down from 19 the previous year. Plunkett was already showing signs of being spent.
Of course, he later went on to lead the Raiders to two world championships. That's great for Plunkett and Al Davis, but not so great for New Englanders from my father's generation who were anxiously waiting for this spectacular young quarterback to bring some hardware to Boston.
Those New Englanders would have to wait another 30 years before they'd have a reason to celebrate.
In 2001, Drew Bledsoe and the New England Patriots agreed to spend the next 10 years of their lives together. Do you know what that means? It means that if Bledsoe hadn't gotten injured during the '01 season, he would've been this team's quarterback last season.
Yeah, think about that. It would've been Eli Manning vs. Drew Bledsoe in Super Bowl XLVI.
Or, on second thought, would the Patriots have even been at Super Bowl XLVI? Would they have any Super Bowl rings at all?
Come to think of it, would Eli Manning have any rings? With Bledsoe at the helm, it's rational to assume that the Patriots wouldn't have made it to Super Bowl XLII or XLVI.
It's no secret that the Giants have the Patriots' number, but Big Blue may not have been so successful against a different AFC team like the Steelers, Chargers, Ravens or Colts. There's a strange butterfly effect at play here.
At 98-95, Bledsoe's legacy as a winner has some leaky holes in the bottom. He had a quarterback rating of 77.1 and a 57.1 completion percentage.
He's still an essential member of this franchise's history and he'll always be a fantastic mid-level quarterback in my mind. Nevertheless, it's really ridiculous that this was the guy the Patriots planned to commit to from 2001-'11.
Imagine if we were still looking for our first Super Bowl victory. That's a scary thought.
Doug Flutie is one of those quarterbacks who always had two types of critics in two drastically different camps: those who thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread and those who thought he was hopelessly mediocre.
Flutie's rabid fanbase is unquestionably devoted to him, but it's hard to rationalize that devotion from a statistical standpoint. In the span of his career, his quarterback rating was 76.3, and he had a completion percentage of 54.7.
People rooted for Flutie in the same way they root now for Tim Tebow. It's the classic underdog story. Nothing wrong with that. Pulling for the underdog is as American as apple pie. But still, there's a point where results have to take some precedence, especially in professional sports.
Like Tony Romo, Flutie was a very good mid-level quarterback, but the hype that constantly surrounded him left many critics scratching their heads and wondering what the hysteria was all about.
Flutie was on the Patriots from 1987-'89, then again in 2005 as Tom Brady's backup. During his time in New England, Flutie was probably best known for successfully converting a drop kick during the '05 season, which was the first time that had been done since 1941. It was a thing of beauty to witness.
Still, his overall career as a Patriot left plenty to be desired.