Moss still vital despite production decrease

Randy Moss

MossWhen the Minnesota Vikings released Randy Moss after their brief relationship, the general consensus was that Moss is not close to the player he once was. He had become an afterthought in the New England Patriots passing attack prior to being traded, and was far from dynamic while in purple.

The numbers certainly support this assertion. Moss ranks tied for 77th in receptions, 66th in receiving yards and 32nd in yards per reception. He's been targeted 47 times this season and caught just 22 passes, good for a 46.8 percent rate -- the 3rd-lowest in the league (minimum 20 receptions). His 22 receptions are his fewest through eight games in his career. Clearly, the statistics say that Moss is a declining asset. But what if that wasn't so clear?

Brady and Favre Combined in 2010
With and Without Moss

Both Tom Brady and Brett Favre were better this season with Moss than without him, despite Moss' poor individual stats. Brady and Favre’s combined passer rating was nearly 32% higher with Moss on the team than without him on the team. Brady’s passer rating with Moss this season is 109.0 and without him it is 81.8. Favre’s passer rating with Moss this season is 77.9. Without him, it’s 64.2.

In fact, this is right on par with the dramatic effect he’s had on all the QB he’s been paired with in his career. One revealing study noted Moss made the six QBs who played at least nine games in one season with Moss demonstrably better. So while Moss might not be hauling in passes with the same regularity that he did even just a few years ago, his mere presence on the field is clearly opening up opportunities for other receivers, forcing opposing teams to account for him and, ultimately, making things easier on his quarterback, whoever that may be.