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Titans Banking on Randy Moss to Finally Get Them Over the Top

Nov 3, 2010 – 7:25 PM
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Thomas George

Thomas George %BloggerTitle%

Jeff Fisher Randy Moss TitansFor all that the Tennessee Titans have accomplished in coach Jeff Fisher's enduring tenure, this franchise has never quite arrived.

Five things help to define the Titans: their move from Houston to Memphis to Nashville 13 years ago; the "Music City Miracle" in the 2000 playoffs; their Super Bowl XXXIV loss to the Rams that same year; their hand-wringing incidents in recent years with quarterback Vince Young; and the murder two summers ago in Nashville of their once-beloved quarterback, Steve McNair.

Fisher and the Titans, hunger for more. Much more.

The Titans play in the AFC South, where Peyton Manning and the Colts also reside.

Every time the Titans turn around, the Colts are in their face, the mountain to climb. This season? Thus far, it's the Colts (5-2), as usual, atop the division. Tennessee (5-3), Houston (4-3) and Jacksonville (4-4) follow. The Titans know that with the Colts as the immediate hurdle, and teams like the Jets, Ravens, Patriots and Steelers the future obstacles in the stiff AFC, that a boost, a jolt, a playmaker is a welcome addition.

Enter Randy Moss.

Twenty-one teams before the Titans said no thank you to this distinguished wide receiver available in stunning fashion on waivers, after the Vikings cut and ran from his antics. Where the others saw trouble, the Titans saw solutions. Where the others saw malcontent, the Titans saw a fit. Where the others saw a player too far past his prime, the Titans saw a worthy deep threat.

The Titans have to hope it doesn't turn sour. Sour with Moss is like a grenade in your locker room. Ask the Vikings -- when it goes bad, it goes bust.
The fear of what Randy Moss might do on a football field overshadows what he actually still does. Teams fear he can beat them vertically like he always used to beat them. Fact is, he can't. Not as frequently, not as piercing. He is 33 years old. He is in his 14th NFL season. No, he cannot beat you as frequently as before. But, he can still beat you when he wants.

Sort of like his old line of "I play when I want to play.''

Thus, it's the perceived constant threat, the familiar double-teams he draws -- the opposition's fear of this player that makes him valuable. And he is valuable to the Titans. He will make defenses back up and back off. He will create more opportunities for the other Titans receivers. Running back Chris Johnson should find more room to run. Young will find more room to roam. And he has a new, big downfield target.

Titans receiver Kenny Britt is nursing a hamstring injury, so the Titans have an immediate need for Moss. But the need he fills is larger than that. He makes the AFC South plan differently now when facing the Titans. He makes the entire AFC give more pause to the Titans. He makes this franchise more relevant, more noteworthy, more in the spotlight -- not a bad thing in this attention-grabbing league.

The Titans have to hope it doesn't turn sour. Sour with Moss is like a grenade in your locker room. Ask the Vikings. When it goes bad, it goes bust. The Titans see the risks but are enamored of the potential rewards.

They passed on Randy Moss in the 1998 draft for many of the same reasons the 21 teams before Tennessee passed on Moss Wednesday, and the ones afterward had planned to do so, too. Now, Moss looks greener on this side to the Titans. Especially considering that the Titans have not won a playoff game in six years.

Tennessee's Mike Heimerdinger is one of the more astute offensive coordinators in the NFL. He will devise ways to incorporate Moss. And he has extra time to do it since the Titans have a bye this weekend. They return to action on Nov. 14 at Miami.

Miami passed on Moss on Wednesday. He will enjoy reminding the Dolphins of that. This is the third team for Moss in half of this season, with the Patriots and Vikings now in his rear-view mirror.

As long as he is getting the ball, as long as the Titans are winning, this pairing is heaven. But Tennessee will learn that there is a very fine line with this player being a Titan, all-in, or him inducing their franchise toward a Titanic-like ending.

This move says more about the Titans' status and what they long for than it does about Moss. It's about hunger. It's about seduction.

It has to be all-in with Moss -- and the Titans, for now, are willing.

The NFL Network debates Moss' fit with the Titans:

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