There's no questioning Randy Moss


There's no questioning Randy Moss

By Rich Levine

It's Tuesday morning at Mall of America Field.

We open on a crowded press conference.

The podium is empty, except for a table featuring two microphones one labeled "R. Moss," and the other "Randy M." A hoard of deadline-ridden reporters anxiously wait for the proceedings to begin.

Suddenly, a lone man emerges from behind the curtain, pulls up a chair right in between the two mics, calmly flips his hat to the back and is ready to roll.

"All right, y'all. Let's get this over with," he says, speaking into the microphone to his right.

Five reporters simultaneously shout out their question:

"Randy, how was to be back in New England!? Randy, is Brett OK?! Randy, talk about how the Pats shut you down! Randy, why did you give up on that bomb from Favre?! Randy, Randy, only two targets? Talk about those two targets!"

"OK, OK. Take it easy," he implores. "This won't work if y'all yelling all at once. How 'bout this: If you have a question, just raise your hand. Raise it real nice and high like you're 'bout to hot route a corner. And I'll call on y'all one by one. Let's be civilized, all right?"

Fifteen arms shoot up, and Moss scans the room, quietly contemplating whom to acknowledge first. After a few tense moments, he looks to the empty microphone on his left, shifts his chair in that direction and raises his own hand. He moves back to the right and says:

"OK, Randy. You're up first."

"Thanks, Randy. First, I just wanna let you know how much I appreciate all you been through this year. I wanna say that I appreciate all you done. I wanna make sure you know that you ARE appreciated. And always will be."

"I appreciate you for saying that, buddy. Now what's your question?"

"OK, I appreciate you cutting to the chase, so here it is:

"You knew all the plays the Patriots were gonna run on Sunday, right? I mean, you knew exactly when they were gonna run them, exactly how they were gonna run them, and you knew the perfect way to stop them. Basically, if you were in charge of that game plan, it woulda been a blow out. So, why didn't anybody listen to you? Why is it clearly everyone else's fault that you guys lost?"

Moss lets out a little chuckle.

"Listen, man. I'm not gonna touch on that right now. Randy Moss isn't about that kind of nonsense. He's about the team. Now don't get me wrong I think that's a terrific question, and I respect your opinion. But it's just not something I feel comfortable discussing. OK, next question."

He quickly shifts back to the other microphone.

"Wait, wait, Randy! Just one more follow up

"In your postgame comments, you seemed to try and distance yourself from the team. When you spoke, you made reference to the 'Minnesota Vikings' and 'their' organization which gave off the vibe that you don't consider yourself a part of the organization; that you feel like an outsider. That was magnified when you used your press conference to gush over just about every guy on the Pats payroll, while not mentioning your current teammates including your injured QB even once.

"So, my question is: What have they done to force you to feel this way? Now I'm just thinking out loud, but is it because they ignored your aforementioned perfect game plan? Is it because they don't respect your knowledge of the game or commitment to winning?

"Also, am I wrong to assume that they obviously don't respect what you can do on the field, either? I mean, two targets, man? They're out of their mind to only target you twice! If we're being honest, I gotta ask: Why did they even trade for you? Don't they realize that you're in a contract year? If they're not gonna offer you a deal, isn't it only fair that they at least give you a chance to succeed?"

Moss takes a second, before sliding back over.

"Ahh, man," he says, shaking his head and smiling. "First of all, I told y'all that I was done talking about the contract. For now, I'm keeping my opinions on that to myself. Although, I do understand what you're saying and probably agree with all of it.

"But as far as far as the team goes? As far as not feeling welcome in Minnesota? As far 'that' organization completely wasting my potential and ruining my last big payday?

"I hate to even bring that up, man. That's not the kinda guy I am."

Moss now looks exhausted. Emotionally drained. He's no longer comfortable in front of his microphones.

"All right, guys, I gotta go get myself right for next Sunday. But I know you gotta job to do. I don't want to leave y'all out in the cold. So let's go with one more question." He cracks out a tired smile. "And let's make it a good one!"

The hands go back up, but Moss doesn't see them. He stares at the empty mic to his left, pauses for a second, and says:

"OK, Randy. Bring us home."

"Aww, me again? Good stuff, man. Listen, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but let me just say this. I think Sunday was unbelievably hard for me err, I mean you. I think it was far more difficult and emotionally taxing than you ever imagined. I don't think you ever realized how quickly things could and would go so wrong in Minnesota, and as you sat at the podium after that game, I think the reality of it all finally set in. And in that moment, I think you finally understood the consequences your behavior. In that moment, you realized how fortunate you'd been to go to work every day with a normal, down-to-Earth and selfless quarterback, a competent, confident and proven coach and for an organization that prides itself on winning, above all else and at all costs. In that moment, you wished you still called New England home, but at the same time, finally understood why that's no longer the case, and why you're now stuck in this three-ring Minnesota mess. And it kills you.

"But the only thing that kills you more is the idea of not getting that big contract offer next season, and you know the more bitching and the more public discontent you unleash, the more that offer will decrease; the faster the old 'Randy Moss is a cancer' label turns you into the next TO an all-time great whose spent the end of his career bouncing around terrible teams. And I know I damn it, I mean 'you' don't want that. So you're not gonna talk at all. You're just going to shut up and play, and show the world that Randy Moss still has it, even in the face of adversity.

"You think this will work. Am I right?"

There's a long pause as Moss shifts back into his original position.

"No comment," he says.

"All right. I'm out."

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Will time off in September benefit Brady down the stretch?


Will time off in September benefit Brady down the stretch?

FOXBORO -- As far as Tom Brady is concerned, there were no silver linings to Deflategate or the month he spent in exile from his team. Don’t try to put whipped cream on that particular mound of fecal material.
Found that out Wednesday when I gingerly asked Brady whether he’s ever felt this good in mid-October.
“I feel good,” said Brady. “I felt good at this time last year though, too. From one year to the next, I’d say I’ve become pretty efficient with how I get ready to play.
So the missing of September?
“I always wish I could be out there playing,” he pointed out. “I’d much rather be playing than not playing, but it is what it is. I feel good at this point. But like I said, I felt good last year, I felt good the year before that, and I think every year at this time of year just based on the right routine and kind of doing the right things to get yourself feeling good.”
The line of questioning was prompted by two things.
First, Brady’s played 256 games -- regular season and playoffs -- since 2000. His 31 postseason starts are the most in NFL history and he’ll add to it this year. No quarterback’s ever had a schedule like Brady’s for as long as Brady and the punishment he takes (witness Denver last January) would have destroyed the Montanas and Mannings with whom he’s compared. The extended layoff had to do a body good. And the level at which Brady’s playing right now -- and may continue to because he’s fresher -- can only mean good things.
Second, all the band, resistance and quickness work Brady does will never make him fast. But it has seemed to make him more decisive and determined that -- when he does opt to run -- the body will cooperate and arrive at the appointed destination without disaster.
Sunday, Brady both bought time for completions and embarked on short-range scrambles that picked up key first downs.
When Brady talked last week about making Pittsburgh “defend every inch of the field,” Brady scooting into open areas was a perfect illustration of that.
“If there are two or three plays a game that you can make just moving the pocket, or sliding, or buying your receivers more time, or scrambling on third-and-two, it’s just one more thing that they have to defend,” said Brady. “We made – Jimmy [Garoppolo] made a bunch of those when he was in there early. Jacoby [Brissett] made some.
“It’s nice to be able to do that because I think it’s a little discouraging for a defense when they feel like they’ve got you covered or they’ve got the right call on it, and all of the sudden – I mean, I don’t think they’re preparing for me scrambling for first downs. I know they’re not working on that. They’re working on stopping Gronk [Rob Gronkowski], and stopping Julian [Edelman], and Danny, and Hogs [Chris Hogan], LeGarrette [Blount] and James [White]. That’s not one of their top 10 things on their hit list, so I think it’s pretty discouraging when it happens and hopefully we can keep it going.”
At this point, Brady’s running has to at least be in the scouting report.
Although Rex Ryan isn’t buying.
“I’d like to see him do it more often,” said Ryan when asked if the scrambling of Brady was becoming annoying. “Put him in the option, that’s one thing that doesn’t scare you much, you live with that. What scares you is when he lets the ball go. He’s able to pick up a few first downs, But I think we may have the edge in running ability this week. I may go out there and make that bold statement. They may be worried about (Tyrod Taylor) more than than we’ll be about Tom running.”   


Pregame number: Al Horford to the rescue


Pregame number: Al Horford to the rescue

Tonight’s pregame number to watch is 45.4%. That was the Celtics' score frequency on pick and rolls finished by the screener last season, which was the worst rate in the NBA.

Score Frequency: The percentage of possession in which the team or player scores at least 1 point.

The major problem for the Celtics last season was personnel, as Jared Sullinger finished the most pick and roll plays for the C’s after setting a screen, and he was -- to put it nicely -- freaking terrible. Sullinger was the second-worst roll/pop man in the league, averaging a paltry 0.87 points per possession.

Fortunately, the Celtics replaced Jared Sullinger with four-time All-Star Al Horford, who is one of the elite roll/pop men in the NBA. Last season, Horford finished fifth in the NBA averaging 1.13 points per possession as a roll/pop man and boasted a more than solid 57.1 eFG% on those plays. 

eFG% (Effective Field Goal Percentage): Measures field goal percentage adjusting for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. The equation is ((FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA

If you watched the preseason, then you already know the kind of impact Horford can have on the Celtics half court offense. So keep an eye out for those pick and rolls tonight and throughout the season, and we should see that 45.4% Score Frequency jump somewhere closer to 50%.