The Randy Moss experiment will work in Tennessee.
It will work because the Titans' offense runs the routes that Moss can run. It will work because Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger loves to throw down the field and views the deep ball not as taking a shot, so to speak, but rather as part of his repertoire. It will work because Titans head coach Jeff Fisher understands how to coach a talent like Moss, and like all great leaders, Fisher can focus on what is important. Most of all, it will work because every player in the Titans locker room wants this to work.
Moss makes his return to Miami on Sunday, this time with the Titans. His last trip wth the Patriots ended up being his last game with New England. Miami is the perfect team for Moss -- and the perfect team for Heimerdinger -- to attack as they play a lot of man-to-man coverage and want to build an eight-man front to stop running back Chris Johnson.
Moss will be an asset in this game for the Titans, because the Dolphins know him, respect him and will make sure he has someone over the top of him the entire game. He'll be pressed at the line, and they won't allow him free access into routes. Most of the impact Moss will have with the Titans will be centered on how the opponents deplore their defense. If the opponents build an eight-man front and leave Moss on an island, the Titans will be able to run play-action pass, which allows Moss more time to clear press coverage or run past the defender.
The Titans offense is not that complicated -- which favors Moss -- yet his presence will have an aggregate effect. There will be a slight spike to Johnson's numbers, but don't think just having Moss on the field means teams will allow Johnson more room to run on every down. Playing the Titans with or without Moss, opponents will still load the box to prevent Johnson from running wild. However, there will be more moments that allow the one big run all running backs need to enhance their stats.
Johnson makes his mark with the big run, the long run over 30 yards. One of the reasons Johnson's rushing numbers are down is due to his lack of that one long run each game. Moss' presence will help Johnson make that run and will also help tight end Bo Scaife work the middle of the field, especially on third down.
With Moss now on the team, his real value must be measured in his ability to benefit others.
The script: My first 15 (Parcells edition)
- I am really looking forward to watching next Friday's (Nov. 19) NFL Network special "Bill Parcells: A Life in Football." NFL Films President Steve Sabol told me this is one of the best things they have ever done.
Parcells is an amazing man, one I have been fortunate to learn a great deal from. He is extremely smart, extremely passionate and, most of all, has a unique way of communicating his powerful message. I love this story he tells about why he loves the game so much: "My wife said to me once, 'Explain to me why you continue to do this? The times that you enjoy it are so much fewer than the rest of the other stuff. What kind of ego do you have that you have to keep proving things to yourself? Why do you do it? You're not happy, so why do you keep doing it?' I told her she didn't understand. I told her it's just about competition because my whole life, since I was 7 years old, you went to the gym or you went to the playground. It was always 'Who are we playing and where?' I'm still doing it. Nothing has changed. It's still, who are we playing today? I love this -- and who are we playing today?"
Therefore, to honor the Parcells piece airing Nov. 19, here's the rest of my script -- but with a Parcells theme.
- Chad Henne lost his starting job this week to veteran Chad Pennington, as the Dolphins need to find a way to score more points and not kick so many field goals. Pennington has the support of most of the key players in the Miami locker room, and his accuracy and leadership will help the 'Fins. With all the time off and rest, Pennington's arm is stronger and should be ready to excel.
Parcells view: "I don't wanna hear about backups. Backups are expected to come in and play. If they can't, then you gotta get them off your team."
- The Ryan Bowl in Cleveland will feature Rex Ryan, head coach of the Jets, facing his brother Rob, defensive coordinator of the Browns. The Jets will pressure the Browns on every down to create negative plays. Once the Browns get behind in the down-and-distance count, this places a burden on their offense, which they might struggle to overcome. Cleveland will need to continue to pull tricks from its bag to win this game.
Parcells view: "I've had championship teams. I know what they look like, act like, behave like. I know the price they pay, and I know how they conduct themselves and go about trying to accomplish these tasks."
- Peyton Hillis reminds me of Jim Taylor of the old Green Bay Packers. Hillis is a better athlete than former Bucs FB Mike Alstott. Hillis was recruited to Arkansas to be a runner, not just a fullback. He gained over 2,600 yards his senior year in high school and scored 29 touchdowns. How did Arkansas not win the SEC with Hillis, Darren McFadden and Felix Jones on the team at the same time?
Parcells view: "Maybe I got on him a little too much. Maybe I never let him know what a good player I thought he was. But, you know, I ran into him recently and he said to me, 'Thank you for being the way you were. You made me a better player."
- Matthew Stafford might miss the rest of the season, but what has to concern the Lions organization is the constant shoulder injuries he has sustained. He must find a way to avoid the injuries -- either by strengthening his shoulder, or being more careful when he drops back to pass. The Lions, with one more draft, can compete, but only if they can keep Stafford healthy.
Parcells quote: "You must be present in the training room to make sure it doesn't become a social club."
- I cannot watch the Texans play defense any longer. They are soft, with a capital "S." And when do we label Kareem Jackson a first-round bust at corner? He cannot run, nor can he cover, and his play has been really poor in his rookie season. The one year the Texans needed a great draft, they failed. This team is never going to win until they start to add tougher players, stronger players, and stop thinking like an old ABA team who wants to score and not worry about defense.
Parcells view: "I'm not interested in being a competitive team. I want a championship team. That's the only goal a guy like me can have. I'm not interested in making a team competitive week to week. I'm interested in champions. I don't have a crystal ball for anything, but what I do have is a plan."
- The Bengals season is over, and what drives me crazy is after the game all the talk centers on Chad Ochocinco not getting the ball enough. Are you kidding me? What about winning some games. The Bengals, like the Cowboys are proof that every year is a new year, and what happen last year does not mean anything. The Bengals thought they could just show up and play with the same toughness and competitive spirit from a year ago.
Parcells view: "It's easy to get diverted by all the variables outside your control, to let them eat away at your vision and self-confidence. But detours will doom you. Lose faith in yourself, and you'll fulfill your own worst prophecy."
- The Bucs are not the best team in the NFC, but they are improving. And to show that marked improvement they must beat the Panthers at home. They cannot afford a slip-up by allowing a team with no offense (88 points all year) to beat them.
Parcells view: "The team that makes fewer mistakes will generally get the opportunity to win, even when the opposition has more talent. On Monday, I'll talk about a blunder that cost some other team a game that weekend."
- Denver is coming off the bye week and should get some of their injured players back. They need to make this game with the Chiefs their Super Bowl. They must get the second half of their season off to a good start, especially on offense. The Broncos have punted six times, fumbled and thrown an interception in their opening possessions of games. They are too good at game planning to not get the lead. They must play from in front.
Parcells view: "The first thing you have to do to turn around a team is to envision the process. Envision the process and do it as fast as you can because patience isn't a virtue in this business. You've got to know what you want to look like."
- I am not in love with Cardinals quarterback Derek Anderson, but at least he can run the offense and make a few throws. He played better last week, and this week against the Seahawks he needs to be consistent. When I watch the Seahawks on tape, I marvel that they have won four games, as their talent level is so bad.
Parcells view: "My job is to call attention to the things that I think are the difference between winning and losing. If I can't do that, then I have failed as a coach."
Parcells view: "Confidence is only born of demonstrated ability. A team's collective mental side is ruled by the psychology of results. In other words, past outcomes dramatically affect the group's attitude going into the next game. A team teaches itself what it is on the field, in action."
- The Steelers are losing more key players each week and might have a hard time overcoming all these injuries. I always thought losing a starting left tackle meant doom and gloom for most teams, but the Steelers have been here before. They are going to struggle to be explosive now with their line situation and their lack of complete top end speed at wide receiver. Only Mike Wallace can run -- and he can really run -- but all the other wide outs are slow and easy to cover.
Parcells view: "It's a week-to-week thing in coaching, every week has a different theme. You have to figure out which is the best way to approach it. It's like being a jockey. A horse is never the same for all 10 rides. The jockey has to sense what is happening early on, and then adjust to it if he wants to get the most out of the horse that day."
- Tom Brady will have to play much better this week than he did last week. The Pats had their chances to turn things around against the Browns, but as a team they failed to execute. Beating the Steelers will take their best game on offense, and I expect them to use more of running back Danny Woodhead. Playing the Steelers, you must play your fastest players.
Parcells view: On Thursday prior to the 1990 NFC Championship Game, Parcells gathered his team and explained that if they were to beat the 49ers in San Francisco, the Giants would travel directly to Tampa for the Super Bowl, rather than come back to New York. He told his players that they could pack for a weekend if they planned on losing in California, or they could pack enough for an extra week in Tampa. As the team mulled the question, Parcells grabbed an extraordinarily large suitcase from under the table and slammed it on the table. "I think you know my answer."
Parcells view: "The desperate team usually wins."
One more from Bill...
Parcells loves boxers, loves their stories, loves their competitive nature. This is one of my favorite anecdotes about Bill, taken from "Play, The New York Times Sports Magazine" and written by Michael Lewis ("Moneyball", "The Blind Side") in 2006.
It takes place in a film room, with Bill offering his take on a fight between middleweights Cyclone Hart and Vito Antuofermo in 1977, and relating it to his team at the time, the Dallas Cowboys:
Parcells didn't see the Hart/Antuofermo fight in person but was told about it, years ago, by a friend and boxing trainer, Teddy Atlas. It stuck in his mind and now strikes him as relevant. Seated, at first, he begins to read aloud from the pages: how in this fight 29 years ago Hart was a well known big puncher heavily favored against the unknown Vito Antuofermo, how Hart knocked Antuofermo all over the ring, how Antuofermo had no apparent physical gifts except "he bled well." "But," Parcells reads, "he had other attributes you couldn't see." Antuofermo absorbed the punishment dealt out by his natural superior, and he did it so well that Hart became discouraged. In the fifth round, Hart began to tire, not physically but mentally. Seizing on the moment, Antuofermo attacked and delivered a series of quick blows that knocked Hart down, ending the fight.
"This is the interesting part," Parcells says, then reads, "When the fighters went back to their makeshift locker rooms, only a thin curtain was between them. Hart's room was quiet, but on the other side he could hear Antuofermo's cornermen talking about who would take the fighter to the hospital. Finally he heard Antuofermo say, 'Every time he hit me with that left hook to the body, I was sure I was going to quit. After the second round, I thought if he hit me there again, I'd quit. I thought the same thing after the fourth round. Then he didn't hit me no more.'
"At that moment, Hart began to weep. It was really soft at first. Then harder. He was crying because for the first time he understood that Antuofermo had felt the same way he had and worse. The only thing that separated the guy talking from the guy crying was what they had done. The coward and the hero feel the same emotions. They're both human."
When Parcells finishes, he says: "This is the story of our last game. We were Cyclone Hart."
See you at the game...
I will be in Miami watching Moss' return, but in reality I'll be trying to figure out, as Parcells indicated above, which team is more desperate. Make sure if you are at the game to come over and say hello.