Sometimes change is needed for everyone.
When I worked for the Raiders, I had a huge sign in my office that was a quote from Eric Shinseki, the former Chief of the United States Army. It read: "If you don't like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less."
Those words held meaning, in part, because changing anything at the Raiders was rather difficult and rare. However, in New England, the Patriots don't mind change, don't mind making tough decisions, and they only worry about doing what is best for their team. Their actions this week prove they love change.
Trading Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings was the right thing to do for the Patriots and the right thing for Moss. As the Patriots offense changed from the beginning of training camp to now, those changes did not involve Moss. He was no longer a player in their offense, but rather a specific play runner.
Moss can still run explosively down the field and stretch the defense, but with the Patriots using more two tight end sets their offense required a route runner, not a route stretcher. Moss does not run the quick slant or any inside routes. His game has evolved into outside-the-numbers vertical routes, or deep over routes on play action. By trading Moss, the Patriots can run their offense without limitations, without having to worry about getting the ball to Moss and, most of all, can utilize their entire offensive playbook.
To me, what is most interesting about this trade is how two organizations are operating completely differently. The Patriots under head coach Bill Belichick are an organization that behaves with sustainable values. Organizations inspired by sustainable values act by saying, "I will never be gone. I will always be here. Therefore, I must behave in ways that sustain -- my employees, my customers, my suppliers, my environment, my country, and my future generations."
Meanwhile the opposite of a sustainable organization is a situational organization. The Vikings lately have operated like a situational value organization. In a situational company, leaders or individuals guided by situational values do whatever the situation will allow, no matter the wider interests or the long term effect. The Vikings have an "all in" mentality to win now and not worry about what happens down the road.
Belichick being the ultimate sustainable thinker has collected four extra picks in the first four rounds without affecting his team. Trading Richard Seymour to Oakland for a first round pick in 2011 allows the Patriots to have flexibility in the draft, as they continue to add youth to this already youthful roster. Yes, Seymour is still a good player, but once the decision was reached to not resign him, or commit huge sums of money to an extension, the Patriots then maximized the value of their asset. Most teams would rather have Seymour for one more year and not worry about the future (situational thinking), but the Patriots clearly have a short and long term plan to continue their success.
Believe it or not, the reality of the Moss move is that the Patriots are not giving up on the season (watch "GameDay Morning" this weekend and see Belichick's reaction when I asked him that question) and really believe they will be able to overcome the loss of Moss.
In Minnesota, once the plane filled with Vikings veterans was sent to talk Brett Favre into coming back, the Vikings became a situational thinking team. Then by trading for Moss they are clearly trying to maximize their chances to win this year and not worry about the future. The Vikings are all in for the season, and now with Moss on the roster they hope he can make the big plays that will allow teams to fear his outside speed. Moss is never going to become fully acquainted with the Vikings' offense, but he and Favre will do their own thing (wonder how Brad Childress will react?) as they break the huddle. Expect more eye contact in the Vikings' offense, and expect Moss to be throwing his hand in the air wanting the ball.
This trade makes sense for both teams, as both teams clearly operate differently. Moss will help the Vikings. He and Favre will make some plays because that is what Moss does best, run plays, not fit into the offense.
The Patriots will involve tight end Aaron Hernandez more; they will use Brandon Tate more; and Wes Welker, along with Julian Edelman, will also be more involved. The Patriots are not done meddling with their roster, as they might even add a veteran receiver (maybe Deion Branch from Seattle) who can run all the routes within their offense.
This change is good for both teams.
The script: My first 15
- The Broncos can throw the ball on anyone, and this week the Ravens will be tested in their secondary. This will be the best passing team the Ravens will have seen so far and will provide evidence as to their ability to cover the spread attack. The Broncos wide receivers will win every match up against the corners of the Ravens, yet the key to Denver winning will be if they can pass protect. If the Broncos can block the front of the Ravens there might be an upset in Baltimore.
- Bills general manager Buddy Nix says he has a plan in place to turn the Bills around, and if he does, I am having a hard time seeing it. The Bills have no quarterback, no offensive line and no size on defense, which make the Bills a long way from being competitive. But this week, they face the Jaguars, who travel badly. This is a winnable game for the Bills, but it will take them playing their best game to win.
Wanted: Pass protection
- How can the Bears enter a do-or-die season for their entire organization and not have a reliable backup quarterback who can actually function? Todd Collins has only thrown 34 passes in the last three years, and his 39-year-old body will struggle to move away from the pressure. This is a huge oversight by the Bears front office that might cost them. The Panthers can rush, and they can attack this bad Bears offensive line with all their blitzes. Even though the Panthers have a rookie at quarterback and no Steve Smith, they have a chance to get into the win column.
- Carson Palmer is coming off his best game this year passing against the Browns, but this Buccaneers secondary is much better than the one he faced last week in Cleveland. The Bengals' running game is struggling, which is interesting because if teams really feared their passing game, that would open up the run for Cedric Benson. But so far that has not happen. If the Bucs can handle the zone blitz package of the Bengals they will move the ball.
- The Browns and Falcons game might be the fastest of the weekend, as both teams like to run the ball, meaning the clock might never stop. These are the kinds of games the Falcons must win, since they are the better team. Playing on the road is never easy for the Falcons, but this Browns defense is made to order for the Falcons' offense.
- The Lions have been in every game this year, with no wins to show for all their efforts. Last week they might have played their best game, and in spite of making too many mistakes (penalties and turnovers) they had a chance to beat the Packers on the road. The Lions play hard, they play tough, and their defensive line is tough to block. The Rams, under the direction of Sam Bradford, have been very efficient, but when they have to play on the road, their lack of talent shows up.
- When the Giants-Texans game is over, we will know if the Giants lack speed in their secondary, as I believe, or if they can still dominate the game with their defensive front. The Texans should be able to attack the Giants' defense, but the G-Men will be able to attack the Texans even though linebacker Brian Cushing is back. This game could be decided by which team has the ball last.
- For the Chiefs to stay unbeaten they must play their best game in the red zone against the Colts. They must run the ball, control the clock, and not get behind early in the game. The Colts are a better team on defense at home, and if Peyton Manning builds an early lead the Chiefs will not be able to comeback. The Colts will move the ball, like the Chargers did on the Chiefs, but the key will be how the Chiefs fare with their red zone defense.
- I've tried to warm up to the Packers defense, but each time I watch them on tape they look worse and worse. They can't cover anyone and even when their offense builds a lead they can't create turnovers. The 'Skins are bad on defense and will have trouble handling the passing game of the Packers. I wonder when teams are going to line up in nickel all game against the Packers, since they can't run the ball on anyone.
- The Cards are going to start rookie Max Hall, and really did they have a choice? Derek Anderson has now proven that his 2007 pro bowl season was an aberration. The Saints are finding it harder to score this year, but even harder to make big plays -- (only 6 completions of 25 yards or more this year; last year they were second in the league in this category) which leads to scores. They still can execute well, and even though they have yet to play their best, they are still winning -- all good signs for the Saints.
- The 49ers are a physical team, and normally physical teams give the Eagles trouble, especially on the road. The biggest problem with the 49ers is the same problem that haunted them last year: They can't run the ball successfully, especially on first down. When the 49ers get behind in the down-and-distance situation, they don't have the ability to overcome. They can win this game -- and avoid their first 0-5 start since 1979 -- if they don't make mistakes with the ball.
Second and long
» I had high hopes for Marshawn Lynch when he came out for the draft, but from his stint in Buffalo I'm not sure I had his evaluation right. In Seattle, he will either prove me right or prove that I made a mistake in my evaluation.
See you at the games...
It's fitting that I will be in Washington to witness the Lombardi Bowl, watching the Packers face the Redskins. And then on Monday night I will be able to see Randy Moss and Brett Favre play their first game together. Be sure to stop by and say hello and check out "GameDay Morning" this Sunday for my sitdown with Bill Belichick as he talks about the Moss trade.