The best deep threat in the game was gone. Could any young receivers step up? Defenses didn’t have to double Moss anymore. How would the different coverage affect the receivers? Wes Welker? The running game?
The Patriots went out and picked up Deion Branch to add to the wide receiver depth chart. But really, how could the Patriots be a better team without Moss?
The Pats faithful responded differently, however. They just said that Bill must have seen something and they were cutting ties before it affected the team.
But what did Belichick see? In a non-scheduled press conference, he told everyone Moss’ contract situation and off-field attitude were not reasons for the move. So what was it, other than getting a third-round pick, which was seen as below value for the future Hall of Fame receiver?
Maybe they just saw a decline in production. In four games, Moss had nine catches for 139 yards (no more than 59 yards in one game) and three touchdowns, not to mention not catching a single pass in the Miami game and not playing in the second half, yet the team won 41-14 anyway.
So he went to Minnesota. Four more games, 13 more receptions, 174 yards (declining each game) and only two touchdowns later, Moss was released.
Meanwhile, the Patriots won three games without the enigmatic wideout. They’ve seen Deion Branch and Brandon Tate step up and have big games. They haven’t been the prettiest games offensively, but they’ve gotten the job done and now have the best record in the NFL (6-1).
The Vikings are a bit of a mess right now, and the decision to let Moss go after giving up a third-round draft pick (maybe low for Moss, but still having value) only a month prior speaks volumes of the mismanagement going on.
However, reports have (again) surfaced of Moss’ mouth and attitude off the field being reasons for his dismissal from his team. Head coach Brad Childress apparently told his team, when referring to Moss’ release, “We want good people who are good football players. This just doesn't fit,” according to Yahoo! Sports.
And once again, Moss had a poor game before his departure, catching only one pass for eight yards.
So is Moss a cantankerous individual unhappy with his stability with teams in the league and a disruptive force in the locker room? Is his production just not good enough?
And if Moss doesn’t get claimed by anyone, he can re-sign with New England for the rest of the season for a fraction of the cost (if money was the issue for the Pats).
Whatever the case with Moss, whatever teams he winds up on and how the Pats play their hand, Bill Belichick looks like an extremely smart man right now.
And those Pats/Belichick faithful look even better.