Ramble On Sports

Where sports, pop culture and everything else collide.

Belichick proves his genius yet again

Posted by Bill Koch on October 12, 2010

Can we all take a step back and realize that Bill Belichick is still playing chess while the rest of the NFL plays checkers?

He sent a wide receiver who wasn’t going to get his big contract, who was going to walk away at the end of the season no matter what and who was shut out in his last game with the New England Patriots out of town and got something valuable in return. He also just traded Laurence Maroney for Deion Branch, replacing that disgruntled wide receiver and keeping his star quarterback happy in the process.

Don’t believe me? Let’s break this down in excruciating detail for those of you who refuse to see the big picture.

Randy Moss had nine catches in four games with New England this year. He had zero catches while the Patriots rolled up 41 points on the Miami Dolphins and Tom Brady was still excellent in that game, going 19-for-24. Moss is well on the wrong side of 30, and you don’t get faster with age unless you play Major League Baseball and can use performance-enhancing drugs. He wants one final big contract to ride off into the sunset. He wasn’t going to get that contract in New England after he turned down Belichick’s offer to talk in training camp. He had one foot out the door, no matter how physically talented everyone thinks he still might be.

Let’s dismiss the talk about how much defensive attention that Moss draws, because it’s overstated at this point in his career. Perception becomes reality after a while, but that doesn’t mean it’s the truth. Darrelle Revis shut him down 1-on-1 last season, and he did it twice. Brady threw one of his worst passes of this season in Moss’ direction during that Week 2 embarrassment somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey, an interception disguised as a jump ball that gave the New York Jets all the momentum. It wasn’t the first time that Brady, Daunte Culpepper, Randall Cunningham or any of Moss’ other former quarterbacks have made a poor decision with him in the lineup. It wasn’t going to be the last.

Turnovers kill teams in the NFL, and Brady turned it over a lot less when he was winning championships by using his tight ends, hitting receivers on quick passes to move the chains and avoiding the rush by delivering the ball efficiently. Now that Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker, Branch and Brandon Tate are in place and ready to roll, look for Brady’s former self to emerge. That’s a guy that we want quarterbacking our favorite team. Moss was never a part of that mix. He was a luxury item who had stopped going over the middle and had become a decoy. You can pay Tate a lot less money to have him run down the sideline and be a decoy.

We all know that Brady threw a hissy fit behind the scenes when he found out that Moss was gone. That’s what every quarterback does when it looks like his weaponry is being reduced. It’s not a coincidence that the first name out of Brady’s mouth was that of a former teammate, or that said former teammate – Branch – ended up in Foxboro less than 24 hours later.

Belichick knows that if Brady isn’t happy, he won’t be happy. His team won’t be happy. His fans and his owner won’t be happy. He decided to keep everybody happy, and all it cost him was the same fourth round pick that he just acquired for Maroney. Did Maroney ever make anybody happy in Foxboro? He has now, and he has Belichick to thank for it. That’s about as close to doing the impossible as you can get. Oh yeah – the Patriots still have their own fourth round pick in 2011 along with six other picks in the first three rounds.

Check mate.

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