Monday, February 13, 2012
The Bears as a microcosm of Moss' problem
By Kevin Seifert
There are some necessary ingredients for a team even to consider signing receiver Randy Moss in 2012. It needs a strong and established coaching staff. A rifle-armed quarterback, with experience in handling high-maintenance receivers, is a must. And it needs a personal advocate who knows Moss, understands him and can serve as an internal facilitator/translator.
There is an NFC North team that fits every aspect of that description, and the minimal chances of a deal highlights how difficult it will be for Moss to get a job for 2012, as he said Monday he wants to do. And that assumes Moss, now 35, can still play at a reasonably high level.
Lovie Smith is one of the NFL's longest-tenured coaches and his locker rooms rarely, if ever, display the type of discord Moss has caused in his various stops. Quarterback Jay Cutler throws one of the NFL's best deep balls, and his longstanding friendship with receiver Brandon Marshall is an example of his social flexibility.
And offensive coordinator Mike Tice was Moss' coach for three seasons when both were with the Minnesota Vikings. Tice lived through the best and worst Moss has to offer, coaxing 217 receptions and 24 touchdowns in their first two seasons together while also dealing with Moss' arrest for nudging a traffic officer with his car and his decision to leave the field early in the 2004 regular-season finale, among other episodes.
So in the Bears, you have a team with an established head coach, a quarterback who could handle Moss on the field and off, a longtime connection in Tice and a clear need for a downfield receiver. So are the Bears a front-runner for Moss' services?
Here's what I know: The same reasons that make Chicago a logical landing point also suggest the Bears won't pursue him.
One of the reasons Smith's locker rooms have been peaceful is the type of people he has brought into it. You don't have to worry about Brian Urlacher loafing on a play or Olin Kreutz insulting his teammates or Lance Briggs publicly questioning coaching decisions.
Cutler's connection with Marshall is based in part on the receiver's well-known work ethic. Marshall has demonstrated some unstable personality traits, but his effort on the field has never been questioned. A quarterback can count on Marshall doing his best.
And it's only fair to point out that Tice shed no public tears when the Vikings traded Moss to the Oakland Raiders in April 2005. Too much of Tice's tenure had been devoted to Moss and his ancillary issues.
In short, the Bears are in a good position to understand what Moss is --and what he probably isn't. For lack of a better term, Moss has been a pathological contrarian for his entire NFL career. He has undermined every coach he's played for, and to think otherwise now would be to suggest he has made a 180-degree personality change.
And as Cutler and anyone else associated with the Bears could attest by turning on film, Moss took an obvious back step on the field in 2010 and was a shell of his former self. Defenses still devoted extra attention to him, but that attribute wasn't enough for three different teams to give up on him that season.
In most situations, the Moss-Bears connection would make a whole lot of sense. But this is an entirely unique scenario. Moss is one of a kind. And if it doesn't make sense for the Bears, who would it make sense for?