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Week 8 NFL Observations

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  • If you haven't heard, Randy Moss was released today - perhaps in part due to what he said about the Patriots after Sunday's game:

    Man, I miss them guys, man. I miss the team. It was hard for me to come here and play... I kind of know what kind of feeling they have in their locker room, man, and I just want to be able to tell the guys that I miss the hell out of them. Every last helmet in that locker room.

    He also called Bill Belichick the "best coach in football history," and implied the Vikings coaching staff ignored some of his input about the Pats' play-calling tendencies to the team's detriment. While it's impossible to know the extent to which those remarks caused his release, I can imagine the stark contrast Moss observed after seeing how things are done on a Bill Belichick team vs. a Brad Childress one. Moss should have been more professional and kept those observations to himself, but that he's not able to turn his loyalties on and off so easily indicates he really did buy into the Pats' organization while he was there.

    If Moss is actually released (it wasn't official as of Monday), he should find no shortage of suitors. The Seahawks and Dolphins have already contacted Moss, and ESPN has reported interest from the Rams, Jets, Redskins, Bears and Patriots. Personally, I'd love to see him in San Diego or even Detroit - you remember last year when Calvin Johnson was triple-teamed because the Lions didn't have enough weapons?

    As for whether Moss has anything left in the tank, here's what his former teammate (and practice opponent) Brandon Merriweather had to say:

    As in judging the ball, it's only one person out there like it, and that's Larry Fitzgerald. As in hands, it's only one person out there like it, and that's Larry Fitzgerald. As in speed, when he runs, there's nobody like it. And his size is what makes it worse. When you put those things together, you've got a great receiver... Moss is in a class of his own. I think if you asked any of [the league's other elite receivers], they will tell you Moss is in a class of his own. He's Moss. He's like no other. They would tell you that

    Asked about criticism of Moss for his declining production, Meriweather said: "The thing with Moss is, the reason you see that is because he has two or three people on him every play. We were in Cover 3, and I still shaded to him, knowing that the corner is going bail and be over the top and play the 9 route, that I don't have to be over there, I still lean toward him. No matter what coverage you're in, you have to give him his respect. And that's what people don't understand."

    I realize Merriweather, who sees Moss as a "big brother" could easily be biased or simply wanting to boost his now unemployed friend's stock, but Merriweather was playing 20 yards off the line of scrimmage Sunday - so much that Troy Aikman remarked that he had never seen a safety play that deep. Apparently, the Pats defensive scheme, rightly or wrongly, reflected Merriweather's assessment.

  • Darren McFadden is a top-5 real-life back. Jamaal Charles is top three.

  • No play illustrates how broken the Cowboys are better than Marion Barber's 4th and 1 carry at the end of the first half where he crashed into Jon Kitna and fell short of the end zone.

  • It's one thing to let Peyton Manning call plays for the Colts and quite another to turn the playbook over to punter Steve Weatherford! While Weatherford accurately diagnosed the Packers' defense and got about 16 yards on a fake punt, it was 4th and 18 from the Jets' 20 yard line. I'm all for aggressive play calling - and it's a joke that coaches won't routinely go for it on fourth and short inside opponents' territory - but this was the craziest play call I've ever seen in my life. But perhaps the sicker thing was Tony Siragusa and Moose Johnston believing that Rex Ryan had called the play and praising it. Siragusa even justified it after the Packers settled for a field goal, by saying Ryan knows he can fail on the fake because his defense was so stout! If you're going to justify a fake on 4th and 18 from your own 20, you might as well advocate not punting ever and opening up an extra roster spot.

    Contrast this to how the media was killing Belichick for going on 4th and 1 against the Colts last year. Erickson speculated on the radio today it's because Rex is chummy with them, while Belichick is curt and not forthcoming. Could very well be.

  • Speaking of Belichick - textbook clock management to close out the game against the Vikings. The Patriots had the ball up three at the Vikings 1-yard line with 3:18 left, and Minnesota was out of timeouts. So Tom Brady ran two sneaks in which he only half-heartedly moved forward, i.e., they were designed to run clock without losing yards (unlike a kneel-down), not to score points. That got them down to the two minute warning, after which they handed off to Benjarvus Green-Ellis, who scored. This gave them a chance either to run more clock (it would have gone down to 1:16 had Green-Ellis been stopped), and either go for it or kick the field goal on 4th down. (Unless Green Ellis lost a yard or more, I'm 90 percent sure, the Pats would have gone for it). And if he scored the TD, which he did, they'd go up two scores with less than two minutes left.

  • I don't mean to make this such a Pats-centric blog, but does anyone realize they have the best record in the NFL with Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead as their tailbacks, Brandon Tate, the current incarnation of Deion Branch, a less-than-100 percent Wes Welker and two rookie tight ends as their main weapons on offense? And it's not like the defense is loaded with superstars, either.

  • *&%* Mike Tolbert.

  • While the Chargers beat a decent team at home this week, it's unbelievable they had yet another blocked punt for a safety.

  • Watching Calvin Johnson break DeAngelo Hall's tackle and stretch his entire 6-5 frame to get the ball across the goal line for his first touchdown Sunday validated all my overreaching on him the last two years.

  • Asked whether I'd take Ndamukong Suh over Clay Matthews, I replied I'd not only take Suh over Matthews, but Sam Bradford. Some of my colleagues disagree - our arguments are in the comments.

  • Were it not for Moss's release Donovan McNabb's benching down six at the end of Sunday's game would probably be the week's biggest story. Apparently Mike Shanahan felt McNabb's nagging injuries prevented him from being in good enough cardiovascular shape to run the two-minute drill. Whether or not that's the case, McNabb strikes me as the most disrespected player of his stature I can remember from Andy Reid benching him last year for Kevin Kolb to Terrell Owens calling him out in the middle of the season. Trent Edwards and Derek Anderson get pulled mid-game. Not 34-year old six-time Pro Bowl quarterbacks.

    (cross-posted at RotoSynthesis.com) For a free 10-day trial to RotoWIre.com, go to RotoWire.com/trial.

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