Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Oct 2010

ESPN: Moss Not The Solution For Vikings

I put together a feature for ESPN Insider on the issues in the Vikings' passing game and how Randy Moss may not be able to solve them.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 06 Oct 2010

10 comments, Last at 11 Oct 2010, 1:09am by Bill Barnwell

Comments

1
by peterplaysbass :: Wed, 10/06/2010 - 12:21pm

I won't pay to read the piece, but I'll start a thread on the topic here in the comments. What will Moss provide?

So long as he's not pouty because the Vikes aren't extending his contract, he'll stretch defenses. If the o-line can keep Favre upright long enough to let Moss get behind coverage (which he can still do), enough passes will happen to open things up underneath. Harvin, Shiancoe and Peterson should be able to cause good damage there.

I'd like to see 6 or 7 pass blocking on a significant amount of passing plays. Kleinsasser, Shaincoe and Peterson are all decent options. That leaves room for Moss, Rice and Harvin to run their routes. Shiancoe and Peterson can chip and move into checkdown position from that scheme. Enough repetition with those plays could open up running draws, also.

I think that Minnesota's defense has been playing very well. If Moss can be effective enough to stretch other defenses and give the short gain game room to breathe, the team has a shot to win 12 games this season.

2
by fier0017@tc umn edu :: Wed, 10/06/2010 - 12:59pm

I just completely disagree. In my mind, Sidney Rice is a Moss clone without speed. There wasn't a better jump ball receiver in the NFL last year than Sidney Rice, often on deep balls. I haven't seen anything like it since, well, Randy Moss was here.

4
by crack (not verified) :: Wed, 10/06/2010 - 1:10pm

Yeah this article is just weird. Rice was a 15 y/r guy last year. Berrian was an 11 y/r guy. Moss was a 15 y/r guy. Moss is much more comparable to Rice than Berrian, at least to my eyes. It's not surprising though, Barnwell is the king of the Poo Pooers this year.

7
by Led :: Thu, 10/07/2010 - 7:44pm

Vincent Jackson may beg to differ on that point, but Rice was certainly very good in that regard.

3
by morrongiello :: Wed, 10/06/2010 - 1:08pm

While I'm normally one to favor an analytical approach to this type of question, I will assume a veteran HOF quarterback has some general idea of what he needs to be successful and Brett Favre has been pining for Moss for a long time now. On paper, it makes perfect sense. Brett Favre likes to sail the ball down field in hopes the receiver out there is exceptionally skilled enough to reel it in. If you look in the dictionary next to "exceptionally skilled enough to reel in a Hail Mary", there's a picture of Randy Moss.

In terms of the anomaly in Bill's Excel pivot table, I'm sure there's some significance to it, but it's equally likely that Favre's match made in Heaven will do wonders helping to clean it up, through whatever mechanism the imagination can come up with.

6
by Boo-urns (not verified) :: Thu, 10/07/2010 - 9:57am

What's weird is that there's not very many statistics cited in favor of the proposition that Moss is more like Berrian than like Rice (or for that matter that Moss won't help the Vikings because he's not a good intermediate receiver).

This is at best a superficially "analytical approach" insofar as it takes one statistic (completion rates on intermediate and long passes), which is not clear to be the most important metric, and uses that to form an opinion of Moss's comparables (like Berrian but not like Rice) as well as his likely addition of value to the Vikings. Moreover, it uses a very limited sample size (6 passes in 2010 as compared to a career body of work before 2009) to make this point.

If Randy were actually like Berrian, he'd be completely one dimensional. The fact that Randy has been historically a complete receiver should be weighted more greatly than 4 games of work (in which he's played some very good CBs and perhaps given suboptimal effort). This is particularly true given that his physical skills (speed, size, etc.) don't appear to have declined significantly from 2009. Moreover, defenses have continued to put their best CB with safety help on Randy, indicating they think he's still a major receiving threat (and not just a deep threat).

And not to echo the ESPN commenters, but you have to account for the fact that Randy will likely draw the other team's top corner and most often double coverage, right? That means worse defensive coverage on Harvin and Berrian (and also that Berrian plays less, which is probably a good thing), and it probably prevents the 8/9 in the box we've occasionally seen against the Vikings right?

5
by t.d. :: Wed, 10/06/2010 - 7:24pm

Wasn't that ProFootballProspectus's take about Moss's impact on the Pats before 2007? Aging, injury prone, and not the same guy you remember from three years ago? I actually agree that Moss might not be enough for the Vikes to even make the playoffs, and one of these times you're bound to be right, but the guy is a physical freak whose impact on the Pats, at least, was even greater than his very impressive individual stats (see Culpepper with and without Moss, Brady's increased effectiveness with other receivers).

8
by Vikesfan (not verified) :: Fri, 10/08/2010 - 11:28am

That was the most worthless garbage I have ever read. You could have saved yourself a ton of time by just writing, "Hi my real name is Peter King and I didn't watch a single Vikings game all of last year, because they don't play on the east coast. Think about this, you compared Moss equally to Harvin/Berrian. You don't possibly think that the addition of Moss makes all these players garner lesser attention and thus makes them better? Allows them to fit into their natural role? Why not make a story about how having to up all the Patriots into higher roles will hurt their offense quite a bit?

9
by crack (not verified) :: Fri, 10/08/2010 - 1:24pm

Hey now, why drag Peter King into this? You know he watched Vikings games last year, Favre played for them. Besides, King at least has sources in the league. Barnwell, on the other hand, just fits stats to whatever his hunch is.

10
by Bill Barnwell :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:09am

Hi, friendly readers! Some additional notes on this topic:

- In that intermediate zone last year, Rice was 37-of-48, for a 77.1 completion percentage. All other Vikings in that range went 59-of-89, for a rate of 66.3.

- Rice was thrown 34.8 percent of the team's targets in that range. Bernard Berrian (60.6 completion percentage) was thrown about 24 percent of targets, the second-highest rate for a Vikings wideout.

- Rice was thrown 18.6 percent of the team's other passes (e.g. passes thrown shorter than seven yards or longer than 14 yards from the line of scrimmage), slightly more than Percy Harvin (15.0 percent) or Berrian (14.4 percent).