Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

10 Dec 2010

Titans' Handling of Moss Absolutely Foolish

I would like to wholeheartedly agree with Paul Kuharsky here. "Yes, Moss and Kenny Britt both play the same position. But a smart staff finds a way to get them both on the field and falls out of love with Gage and Nate Washington." Two additional points. First, maybe Moss can't (or has no interest in) running shorter routes or routes over the middle, but you can absolutely use Britt in that role. Second, I think we learned this year that Moss no longer can beat a double team, but at least in New England and Minnesota we also learned that he still draws a double team. That won't help his ego, but it does help your offense.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 10 Dec 2010

44 comments, Last at 31 Jan 2011, 4:07pm by Arerrunny


by andrew :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 12:23pm

I thought the Vikings cutting his was stupid, but its even worse to keep him and not even use him. And at least the Titans picked up the tab for his salary.

After this year I expect him to offer to return to the Patriots at minimal cost if they'll have him.

by RickD :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 12:29pm

Will they? The Pats have the most effective offensive in the NFL without Moss.

It's not clear to me what they'll do.

by andrew :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 12:37pm

I don't know if they would. All I was suggesting is that Moss would try to get them to take him back.

Even if Bellicheck doesn't think he needs him, he might do it to get another draft pick out of someone else...

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 12:45pm

NE will never, ever take Moss back. Period.

by MDCHARGER (not verified) :: Sun, 12/19/2010 - 9:23am


found the above link. Funny stuff. bet it was Randy Moss calling in to bash Fisher

by andrew :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 12:24pm

... weird, double post.

by RickD :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 12:27pm

In the last two minutes of the game, while the Titans were playing dink-and-dunk to grab small portions of yardage while burning the clock, to ensure that their final TD would come too late, I asked myself "Where is Randy Moss?" If he has a hamstring pull, fine. If not, why is he on the team if they're not going to try to throw to him? I know the Colts were playing a prevent defense, but you have to at least test it a little bit.
And would it be so hard to devise a play that has both Moss and Britt running deep routes? Would some law of physics be violated? At the very least, it would have required serious choices to be made regarding the safety play.

I remember when the Rams used to alternate playing Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt because "they both play the same position".

The 49ers never played Jerry Rice and John Taylor at the same time!

It was always weird watching the Steelers alternate Lynn Swann and John Taylor.

I can keep this up all day.

by Randy Hedberg (not verified) :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 1:32pm

It would indeed be weird watching the Steelers alternate Lynn Swann and John Taylor. Man, the 70s must have been fun...

by RickD :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 4:05pm

Blecch - brain fart. Stallworth obviously.

by commissionerleaf :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 1:33pm

You're absolutely right, and the answer to your question is "four verticals", the play you run in that situation normally. The Titans actually have great receivers for that, since you can have Gage or Washington run a deep crossing route to pull a defender off the deep routes.

I suspect the problem is that Moss doesn't know the play calls in the two-minute offense (Britt may not know them all either). He's not known as an X's and O's guy.

by BJR :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 1:34pm

The final Titans TD may have come too late for them to have any hope of actually winning the game, but it sure didn't come too late to annihilate anybody who had backed the Colts to cover the -3......

by RickD :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 4:05pm

Yeah, that part was amusing.

by RichC (not verified) :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 1:32pm

Its Jeff Fisher. Are we really surprised that hes not handling things well? He kind of has a history of alienating players.

by GoDillos (not verified) :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 1:41pm

Before last night's game, I thought Bud Adams would be absolutely insane to side with a mediocre whiny QB over what I thought was one of the top coaches in the game. But, last night was a terrible performance from Jeff Fisher. Has he been this bad all season?

- Gets absolutely NOTHING from Moss who was still one of the top 10 wideouts in the game at the beginning of the season.

- Plays completely vanila Tampa 2 defense against Manning all night when Manning has been mis-reading defenders in complicated coverages for 3 weeks.

- Almost no urgency in clock management to get back into it at the end of the game.

Is this really the same guy who onside kicked every time against the Colts a couple years ago?

by Ian1432 (not verified) :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 1:51pm

Not to mention:

- NOT onside kicking at the end of the 1st half when the ball was already moved up 15 years due to an Indy penalty on the PAT
- Punting with 4 mins to play on 4th and 1 when the D had done nothing all night
- Not kicking a FG when in range at the end of the game to try and secure an additional possession (defensible, but still the wrong call I'd argue - especially with Kerry Collins running things)

by Yaguar :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 1:58pm

The punt was especially horrible given that they have Chris Johnson against the 27th-ranked Colts run defense.

by RickD :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 4:14pm

I hate to use Easterbrook language, but that punt was both mincing and fraidy-cat.

by Jim D (not verified) :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 8:46pm

Yes but what did you write in your notebook at that moment?

by RickD :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 11:30pm

I'm too embarrassed to say.

by Jerry :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 11:59pm

"I <3 TMQ"?

by E :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 2:09pm

I can't defend not kicking a FG when in range at the end of the game to try and secure an additional possession when even the color commentator for the game - who I believe was Matt Millen - was adamant that they should kick the field goal after the time out at 0:32. If even Matt Millen knew it was the right strategy, Fisher has no excuse.

by BJR :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 2:26pm

It was fair enough not taking the FG with 40-odd seconds left, but they then had to take shots into the end zone. That a receiver was then tackled in bounds was just pathetic game management and execution.

Another black mark against the Titans game plan: why was Cortland Finnegan covering Reggie Wayne one on one at any stage? Nothing against Finnegan, but Wayne is just a mismatch one on one against almost every corner in the league. The Colts have no run game, and their other receivers are hardly stellar. Surely there is no reason not to double Wayne at all times?

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 3:36pm

I've seen this on other good receivers recently too. As a Packers fan I'm delighted that Greg Jennings is still almost exclusively seeing single coverage. I mean Finley has been on IR since week 4. The Packers have no running game and I don't think they ever seen extra men in the box. Donald Driver was out for a few games and was also a shell of himself with the quad injuries for a couple more. So you have Greg Jennings, James "drop or fumble the critical passes" Jones, Jordy "I'll catch it if I manage to get open" Nelson, and Brett "practice squad for life!" Swain as the wide outs. The tight ends aren't anything special. So you have the ability to double cover someone pretty easily since you always have an extra coverage man since the run game is a joke but they don't double Jennings. I've seen Jones and Nelson draw more double coverage.

The results for weeks 6-13? Jennings has 43 receptions for 761 yards and 8 touchdowns in those 7 games (the Packers had a bye week in that 8 week stretch). That 108.7 yards a game leads the league over that period. That 7 game period translates to 1739 yards, 98 receptions, and 18 TDs if he did it up for a full season. Yes he had a slow start (which has happened before with Greg). But how do you not double cover someone with numbers like that over half a season worth of games? And the team is 5-2 (3pt overtime loss to Miami and last second 3pt loss @ Atlanta) in those games so it's not like it's helping opponents win.

So seeing Reggie Wayne not draw double coverage as well really made me wonder if I'm just missing something. Are double coverages happening and are just disguised better than I thought? Is there some kind of zone that I don't see?

In the case of Jennings it is obvious that if there is something I'm not seeing it's not working, but I can't understand it. Why not double cover a receiver when I just don't see a draw back too it? It didn't really seem to help the Titans either last night 4 for 106 for Wayne doesn't really help the cause.

So yeah I don't get it.

by BJR :: Sat, 12/11/2010 - 7:12am

I went back and checked the play-by-play for the two long Manning-Wayne completions where Wayne appeared to be single covered. The first was on third and 14 so you might be excused for thinking the Titans blitzed and that was why Wayne was singled, but they didn't. They rushed 4, Wayne beat Finnegan down the sideline, and there wasn't another Titans defender in sight. The second occasion was on first down. The Titans rush only 4. The coverage from Finnegan is actually good, but Wayne gets half a step and its a beautifully thrown ball. Again there isn't a safety anywhere in the vicinity.

Once is forgiveable, but twice???

by Ezra Johnson :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 4:35pm

That's weird. Hearing Matt Millen pushing for the field goal made me assume it was exactly the wrong thing to do.

The other Millen highlight was his explaining the "free play" concept when Collins threw it up for grabs after the Colts had jumped offsides, as if it was the first time anyone had heard of it. He said Collins was "smart" for doing that.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Sun, 12/12/2010 - 3:04am

It was the wrong thing to do.

Which is easier: kick a FG from the 14 then drive 60ish yards in :30 for a TD; or score a TD from the 14 then drive 25-30 yards (2 passes) for the FG?

There's no question you go for the TD first when you're already that close. Doing so cuts the yardage necessary after the onside kick (both scenarios above assume the longshot recovery, obviously) in half (or by even more). The error wasn't in the coaching decision, it was in throwing and catching a ball over the middle short of the goal line. If the play isn't immediately there on the sideline or for a score, you chuck it out of the back of the end zone and try again. The worst thing to do is complete it over the middle. That was just dumb.

But not dumb on Fisher's part in that case.

by dmb :: Sat, 12/11/2010 - 1:55pm

At least one of Manning's picks against Dallas came against a straight Tampa-2, and a few of his recent ones have been made by defenders who were freelancing. Some of the coverages may have been complicated, but Manning's struggles in the previous games didn't seem to discriminate based on type of defense.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 2:21pm

How much time is left on Fisher's contract? Is he trying to get fired?

by wr (not verified) :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 2:25pm

There is certainly speculation to that effect. Whether it's true or
not is anyone's guess. I *think* his contract runs through next year.

by Drunkmonkey :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 3:06pm

According to comments made recently about how the locker room is much closer after seeing how immature Young acted when walking out, Fischer said he plans on finishing out his contract which ends after the 2011 season. Whether he meant he plans on serving it and leaving, or if he thought he was on the hot seat, I'm not sure...

by sundown (not verified) :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 3:29pm

I have no idea why the Titans signed Moss if they had no intention of using him. That said, you've got to lay a lot of the blame directly on Moss. Putting his exit from NE aside, he joined the Vikings who were in a position to really need him and couldn't get along there, then he joined the Titans who also could use his services and he's not contributing there, either. He's making a bid to be out of the league. There can't be many teams left willing to give him a shot.

by RickD :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 4:11pm

Moss contributed to the Vikings - at least, a lot more than he has to the Titans. And it's not like he can throw the ball to himself. If the Titans don't target him at all in a game, I don't think we can necessarily blame Moss for that.

The Patriots had a game against the Dolphins this year when they never targeted Moss, except for an audible by Brady at the goal line. But the Patriots were doing that intentionally, to prove to themselves that they didn't really need him. And then they traded him.

What are the Titans up to?

by K (not verified) :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 6:10pm

To be precise, he contributed for two games and 29:32 of a third. That is the point in the MN-GB game that Childress let the last :28 of the first half expire, with 2nd and 5 from his own 40,in a 17-14 game. It was obvious from his body language that at that instant, Moss checked out for the season.

(The worst of it is, Moss was right. Watching at home, I said that Childress should have been fired AT HALFTIME after that particular display of ineptitude.)

by TheChadHenneMeme (not verified) :: Sat, 12/11/2010 - 9:12pm

Agree with this. Moss burned Cromartie for a touchdown, helped win a game against a Dallas team that, if nothing else, is talented. And then that Green Bay game, and the end of that half.

by andrew :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 4:07pm

Next year Randy Moss will play for:

[ ] Tennessee Titans
[ ] Dallas Cowboys
[ ] Cincinnati Bengals
[x] Sacramento Mountain Lions

Yes, a reuinion with Denny Green and Daunte Culpepper.

by Bobby Wommack (not verified) :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 5:17pm

Sad to see, but Moss is officially done. He lost his speed and he's not a hard enough worker to compensate for it by doing other things. He still refuses to run routes hard or give maximum effort every play. He jogs off the line when he knows he's not one of the primary reads. And since he can't beat any respectable corners deep anymore, his productivity is basically at zero. I mean, he was horrific with Brady. Brady was only completing something like 40% of his passes to him even though he was leading the Pats in targets. He did relatively nothing with Favre. And he's been a ghost with the Titans. Do we really need any more proof? Always been a fan of the guy, but it's over for him. Unlike T.O., who always had a more complete game, Randy doesn't have anything to fall back on once his speed -- and desire -- is gone.

Maybe this is too much hyperbole, but I've watched every game he's played with the Pats and the difference between this year and even last year is drastic.

by TheChadHenneMeme (not verified) :: Sat, 12/11/2010 - 9:10pm

Yeah, that is too much hyperbole.

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 11:22pm

reandy Moss is Darn Mossy

that what happen when stand on sidleine or when get in game jog a little bit

If playing and tyring hard, he not goign to have moss groowing on him

by RickD :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 11:33pm

Prediction: Moss joins the Redskins.


by JonFrum (not verified) :: Sat, 12/11/2010 - 12:58am

When he was with NE, Moss caught 40% of the passes targeted towards him. He jogged through many more plays. When he went to Minnesota, he was no better. Since he's been in Tennessee, he's done nothing. Does it occur to anyone that maybe the HC has watched the game film? If the guy was flying, he'd be a one-winged duck.

The Patriots are actually better without Moss. How many of you predicted that? Three NFL coaches are done with him - and this is a league that would play Jeffery Dahmer in a hockey mask if he could run a 4.4 forty. Who is double-teaming Moss today? Not only is he a one-route receiver, he also jumps like Shaq. I mean today Shaq, not rookie Shaq. The Titan's problem isn't not using Moss - it was signing the train wreck in the first place. Doesn't the fact that no one else put in a claim for him tell you anything?

by jackgibbs :: Sat, 12/11/2010 - 3:55pm

well, no one's doubling him now because he's on the sideline. but when/if he gets on the field, even jogging, the safety still gets rolled to his side and there won't be any eight man boxes. I think the argument can be made that putting both moss and britt on the field at the same time would require two deep safeties, even if rany only ever gets five yards off the ball 90% of the time, you can't just guess which play he's going to decide to turn it on. and that's the problem with the titan's game plan now. doesn't nate washington only run a couple routes? is he really a better option than randy moss? Maybe he's a better run blocker...

and to be fair to randy, his 40% catch rate in new england happened because he was only running deep every play, and tom brady lost his long ball.

by Bobby Wommack (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 10:49am

Yeah, that 40% is ALL because Brady CAN'T throw the long ball, and not because of Randy. It's not because Randy lead the team in drops either, right?

Seriously? Have you watched Brady the past month or are you just trolling?

by Justin Zeth :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 10:01am

Seems pretty obvious the Flaming Thumbtacks only put a claim in on Moss to keep him from getting to one of the AFC contenders below them in waiver priority, and never had any interest in using him, right?

by Arerrunny (not verified) :: Mon, 01/31/2011 - 4:07pm

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