The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for

Desperation days


As usual, the New England Patriots traded Randy Moss with an eye toward staying strong for the next decade.

As usual, the Minnesota Vikings' trade for Moss was an act of desperation.

Only fitting, given the history of the franchises.

The Patriots have won three Super Bowls since 2001 and have missed the postseason only twice since then, including 2008, when Tom Brady was hurt and they STILL went 11-5. The Vikings have never won a Super Bowl and are in the 35th season since they went to one.

Consider New England first and its coach, Bill Belichick, who assumes he has an edge on everyone else because he's smarter than they are.

Arrogant, but close to the truth, although his arrogance cost him the first 19-0 season ever when he let Tom Coughlin out-coach him when the Giants beat the Pats for the title in 2008.

Belichick also is a realist.

Ask him if he can win a Super Bowl this season. Or win the AFC East. Or even make the playoffs. The real answers would be "probably not,'' "maybe,'' and "probably'' if he had Moss and exactly the same without him. That's because Moss' removal from the locker room removes the same negative vibe that existed at the end of his first tenure in Minnesota and again in Oakland, including a reported clash with offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien at halftime Monday night in Miami.

In other words, good but not great. An offensive threat with Brady but a team that also can win as it did in Miami Monday night with defense and special teams. Moss didn't have a catch in that game.

That's Belichick football. It existed before Moss arrived in 2007 and it will exist in the future as Brandon Tate and rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez are worked in as a combination to replace Randy. Tate is speed and explosion -- he's returned two kickoffs for touchdown this season. Hernandez is size and might be a potential Antonio Gates or Tony Gonzalez -- he's a surprisingly elusive runner for a 250-pounder.

Defensively, the Patriots started rookies at both corners Monday night and have youngsters trying to replace the likes of Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison and Mike Vrabel, stalwarts of the Super Bowl years. With a flock of early-round draft picks, including the third-rounder they got for Moss, they'll be able to continue the building process.

The Vikings?

Moss replaces Sidney Rice, out with a hip injury. That's one reason Brett Favre has struggled -- he's comfortable now only with Visanthe Shiancoe, the tight end.

But remember also that Brett will turn 41 on Sunday and has a bad ankle that's limited the mobility that's made him so dangerous for two decades. This is almost surely his last season and with an aging offensive line and defense, almost surely the Vikings' last shot at a title.

In fact, their best shot was probably last year when if not for a dumb penalty and an interception (blame Favre and coach Brad Childress) at the end of the NFC title game in New Orleans last season, Minnesota might have its Lombardi Trophy.

Will Moss give the Vikings another shot?

Ask the same questions about Minnesota as New England.

Super Bowl? Probably not. Division? maybe. Playoffs? probably.

Not enough for a desperate team.

By Dave Goldberg  |  October 6, 2010; 2:56 PM ET  | Category:  Dave Goldberg , Minnesota Vikings , New England Patriots Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: More Belichick brilliance | Next: Which team benefits most from Randy Moss deal?

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