'Back to where we were four weeks ago'

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Like you, I've had enough of the Machiavellian aspects of Randy Moss' departure from the Minnesota Vikings. After listening to coach Brad Childress Wednesday, I think it's pretty clear this was all about self-preservation. Moss' brazen personality threatened Childress' standing as the alpha male of this organization, and there was no way Childress was going to allow that.

So let's move on and assess how the move will impact the rest of the team. First, you should know that at least one prominent player was still distressed on Wednesday. Receiver Percy Harvin, who developed a quick friendship with Moss while benefiting from favorable defensive looks, was asked if he was surprised and/or angry. "For me," Harvin said, "it's a little bit of both."

Quarterback Brett Favre did his best to remain neutral but noted: "I know fans don't always agree with decisions. As players, we're no different."

Favre added: "As when we brought him in, time would tell if it would be a good fit. We'll see if it's a good fit now. We're back to where we were four weeks ago."

And that's the bottom line. The Vikings acquired Moss on Oct. 6 because their offense had been punchless in its first three games. He didn't compile the numbers the Vikings had hoped for, catching one touchdown among nine receptions, but he clearly and obviously impacted the way teams were defending the offense.

The New England Patriots, for example, positioned safety Brandon Meriweather some 20-25 yards downfield on Moss' side, opening up the intermediate routes for Harvin and tailback Adrian Peterson. Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman said during the television broadcast that he had "never" seen a safety play that deep for an entire game.

Overall, Harvin caught 19 passes for 287 yards in the four games Moss played. Peterson caught nine passes for 111 yards in the same span. Favre suggested there was a direct connection between the events, and said that benefit more than compensated for the plays Moss ran half-speed.

Over the past three games, Favre said, "he got double coverage every time. That takes another guy out of the box. I understand that. Did he hustle on every play? I don't know if Randy has ever hustled on every play. That's just Randy. But he knows what his value is. He figures, 'Heck, two guys follow me everywhere I go.'

"There are probably certain routes that he doesn't run as well, but there's one in particular that you're scared of."

Sidney Rice was Favre's deep threat last season, and Rice (hip) practiced Wednesday for the first time all year. He could return as early as Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, but the Vikings now have a three-week window to let him practice without counting against their 53-man roster.

Rice's looming return augurs some long-term optimism. But all you need to know about their short-term status came when Childress was asked how he would compensate for Moss' departure on the field.

"We've got Hank Baskett," Childress said, referring to a player with six catches with three teams over the past three seasons. "We'll elevate his turns and get him in the mix."

The Vikings were a better team on the field with Moss, and that likely would have remained the case moving forward. The real question is whether they can be a good enough team without him. That will determine whether Childress survives this episode, or if it has signaled the beginning of his end.