How Moss fits in

Merril Hoge takes a look at Randy Moss and his potential impact with the New England Patriots.

Originally Published: May 12, 2007
By Merril Hoge | ESPN.com

Everyone has discussed how great the Randy Moss trade is going to be for the New England Patriots, so let's talk about how the Patriots should use the speedster.

This trade will benefit New England several ways, including potentially helping Tom Brady earn his first regular-season MVP. Last season, Brady threw for 3,529 yards with second-rate receivers. This season, the Patriots have loaded up with a fantastic set of guys who complement each other and will all play off Moss extremely well.

Obviously, the Patriots are going to use Moss' downfield skills to exploit secondaries, but not in the way most people think. This is a smart offensive staff that won't get caught up in throwing deep jump balls downfield to Moss like some of his previous offensive coordinators. The coaches will also use his speed and ability to make big plays to create opportunities for others.

The Patriots will have Moss run deep patterns to run off the deeper safety, creating more space for complementary routes from Kelley Washington, Donte' Stallworth, Wes Welker and Troy Brown. They will run a lot of digs, ins, curls and crossing patterns with the excess space Moss will provide. This will give Brady time to pick apart opposing defenses. Moss' presence will also create a lot of single coverage for these receivers, and they have the speed and smarts to take full advantage of that coverage.

Another way Moss will help this team is in the running game. With Moss taking a safety deep, the Patriots will be able to pound the ball, running some delays and traps to keep defenses off balance.

Enough about how Moss will help others. The question a lot of people are asking is: How will Moss do with a great quarterback throwing him the ball and a great offensive staff coordinating? I believe he will finish the season with 80-90 catches, more than 1,000 receiving yards and double-digit touchdowns.

Opposing teams will respect him, but the presence of the other weapons on this team will prevent defenses from focusing solely on him. This will be the first time since he stopped playing opposite Cris Carter that he will have other receiving threats to play off, and that will be the key to his success. While Moss has had a propensity to take plays off, he has also been hamstrung by poor coaching and the lack of quality receivers on the other side of the field.

This year will be different for Moss. I expect to see the type of numbers and influence on the game we saw from him early in his career.

Former NFL fullback Merril Hoge is an analyst for a wide variety of NFL programs on television and ESPN Radio. An eight-year NFL veteran, Hoge spent 1987-93 with the Pittsburgh Steelers and joined ESPN in 1996.