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Moss signing bold power play by Titans

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Posted Nov. 03, 2010 @ 6:17 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

The Titans were awarded former Vikings WR Randy Moss on waivers Wednesday, the team confirmed.

PFW has confirmed that the Titans were the only team to put in a claim for the 33-year-old Moss, who was waived by the Vikings on Tuesday.

Moss has 22 catches for 313 yards and five TDs in eight games this season. The Patriots dealt Moss to Minnesota for a 2011 third-round pick in October as the Vikings looked to jump-start a flagging passing game, but Moss lasted just four games in a failed second stint in Minnesota.

"Randy Moss, it didn't work out," Vikings head coach Brad Childress said Wednesday. "I'm not going to get into any particulars."

The Titans' claim of Moss comes after second-year WR Kenny Britt suffered a hamstring injury Sunday at San Diego. Britt will miss the Week 10 game at Miami after Tennessee's bye, head coach Jeff Fisher said Wednesday.

The Titans have a 5-3 record and sit half a game behind the Colts in the AFC South.

The PFW Spin

More than 12 years ago, the Titans famously passed on Moss to select Kevin Dyson in the 1998 NFL draft, but with Britt out at least one game and the team needing to keep defenses honest so they don't load the line of scrimmage to stop RB Chris Johnson, the decision to add Moss makes sense. Though Moss caught just 13 passes in four games in Minnesota, his presence certainly helped second-year WR Percy Harvin, who thrived in the veteran wideout's short tenure with the club. The attention Moss, who figures to step immediately into Britt's role as the club's top field-stretching threat, will garner could help Nate Washington, a very good route runner who also can get deep.

The signing of Moss comes after Britt suffered a hamstring injury that Fisher has said could keep him out for some time. Fisher said Monday that Britt was not out for the season, but he also quickly ruled him out for Week 10 on Wednesday, 11 days before the Titans' next game. When Britt returns, the Titans will have one of the NFL's deepest receiving corps — a remarkable feat, considering the depth of the group was a major concern just two years ago. Recall the clamoring for Tennessee to draft a wide receiver in 2008 when it selected Johnson.

That move favorably changed the offense, adding a needed dose of explosiveness to a plodding attack. It remains to be seen how Wednesday's move — certainly one of the boldest in franchise history — will affect both the Titans' offense, as well as team chemistry.

Childress' decision to waive Moss came one day after the temperamental wideout praised the Patriots and criticized the Vikings for not listening to his advice regarding New England's tendencies. What's more, reports surfaced that some in the Vikings' organization were upset with Moss' conduct at a catered meal in the team's locker room. 

However, Moss is regarded as a very smart player, astute in the way defenses work. In a recent interview with PFW, Browns TE Benjamin Watson, Moss' former teammate in New England, marveled at Moss' knowledge of the game and recalled a play in which the seven-time Pro Bowler told Watson in the huddle the coverage the defense would show and that Watson would be open — and the play unfolded just the way Moss predicted it would.

Moss' presence will force teams to make tough decisions. If they single-cover Moss, they are rolling the dice. However, if opponents set out to stop the Titans' passing game, they are asking for trouble over the long term, for Johnson has game-breaking speed. The prospect of having Moss, Johnson and Britt on the field at the same time this season could make the Titans' offense one of the NFL's most difficult to defend.

On paper, this looks like a wise move for the Titans. Moss fills a position of need. He joins a team with the NFL's longest-tenured head coach and an experienced coaching staff. If Moss is a distraction, it's hard to see the Titans tolerating him.

Moss may no longer be a Pro Bowl-caliber performer — he has just 22 catches in eight games for a pair of teams with stronger passing games than Tennessee's — but he can help the Titans, and the signing makes them a stronger threat to win the AFC South than they were a day ago. Consider the team's situation: it already has defeated the Jaguars. It has two games left with the Colts, who have no shortage of injury issues and have struggled to stop the run. The Texans have a potent offense but the league's worst defense.

Through eight weeks, it's clear there will be a brutal battle for playoff spots in the AFC. In the East, the Jets, Patriots and Dolphins all have winning records. The Steelers and Ravens, the North's top teams, are upper class. The Chiefs lead the West, but the Raiders are improving, and the Chargers, who defeated Tennessee, cannot be discounted.

In short, if the Titans don't win the AFC South, a wild-card berth could be tough to secure. A few good teams will be left out of the playoffs.

The Titans helped their case to be one of the AFC's six left standing in January. And if Moss becomes a key contributor, they could become bona fide contenders like they were two seasons ago. Certainly they have a stronger offense than they did in 2008.

Two other factors that can't be overlooked when analyzing why the Titans would make this move: The lone big line item missing on Fisher's résumé is a Super Bowl title. Also, 87-year-old owner Bud Adams has won two AFL titles as a owner, but not the Lombardi Trophy.

As the Titans survey the NFL landscape, they have to like their chances to make the playoffs and be a serious threat to go to the Super Bowl. There would be no other reason to make such a bold move. Already Tennessee has soundly defeated the Giants, regarded as the NFC favorite at the moment.

The Titans are thinking big. They should be.

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