New England Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss addresses the national media during his conference call on Wednesday, September 10, 2008.
Q: What are your thoughts on losing quarterback Tom Brady for the season?
RM: Well, it is going to hurt. The 'said and done' term is to just go forward. That is hard for us to really say and hard for us to really do when you are talking about a player and team leader such as Tom [Brady]. With all that said, we know the show must go on. We know with him being gone that a lot of players are going to have to step it up a notch. They have to go an extra notch or go the extra level knowing that we had a guy like Tom and we are going to miss him. That means everybody else is going to have their work cut out for them and is going to have to give a little bit more.
Q: What did head coach Bill Belichick say when he talked about quarterback Tom Brady's injury to the team?
RM: I think it is more about us coming together, knowing the type of player Tom [Brady] is. In a certain sense, we really don't have that much margin for error now. That means each week, week in and week out, that we are focused and making sure that we are on top of our game, players and coaches included. He [Bill Belichick] is not really shying away from the fact that Tom is hurt. He is making it known that he is hurt and we are going to move forward and put 11 [players] out there on the field. Hopefully, with the way we practice each week we still have a good chance to win. We are going to miss Tom for this season but at the same time there are still guys collecting a check that are a part of this team. We are going to put guys out on the field to go out there and make it happen.
Q: Can you talk about your comfort and confidence level with quarterback Matt Cassel?
RM: Well, there really isn't a comfort level yet because I haven't really had a chance to work with [Matt] Cassel or him getting a chance to work with the first team. I think it is more of him working with the first team. I don't think he has experienced much at that. I think he experienced some of it in the preseason. As far as the regular season with the bullets alive and where everything counts, I don't think he has really experienced that. We have had a little time to work on our timing and get our timing down just for the fact that Tom didn't play in the preseason. We have our work cut out for us and we know that. That is what back-ups, second and third string guys are for – just incase the first [string] goes down then you have to have confidence in your second and third string. Regardless of what you see and hear, coach [Bill] Belichick, our organization and our team are behind Matt Cassel. He is our quarterback now and we are going to go out there to try and make things happen. That is best thing we can do.
Q: Were you impressed with how quarterback Matt Cassel handled himself last week against Kansas City?
RM: I was happy with the way our team responded. Not just [Matt] Cassel, just with the magnitude of it [losing Tom Brady], it was like the helium was let out of the balloon. When Tom went down everything got quiet. Guys were looking at each other with the 'deer in the headlights' eyes. You can see everybody was stuck in the moment like 'Is this really happening?' From a team standpoint and coaching standpoint we pulled together knowing that Tom did get hurt and limped off the field. We didn't know his status. Not just being impressed with Cassel's performance but I was impressed by the whole team's performance. We were able to overcome our leader being down, our leader getting hurt and still being able to come up with a victory.
Q: You were in similar situation with the Minnesota Vikings when quarterback Daunte Culpepper was a young quarterback. What are some things you can do to help a young guy like quarterback Matt Cassel?
RM: I am always open to anything. Time and time again the quarterback really makes all the calls and makes the decision of where he distributes the ball. The biggest way I can help is go out there and do my job. Doing my job may consist of doing things a little bit harder, quicker and faster. I am not going to let something like this [Tom Brady's injury] get me down. Knowing that we still have a lot, a lot of football to be played. I am not going step up as far as going in there and trying to tell him how to do things knowing Tom is gone. The best thing I can do is do my job, get open, catch the ball and score touchdowns. That's what I'm going to continue to do. I'm not going to let anything slow me down."
Q: Will you guys try to change or simplify the offense now that Matt Cassel is the starting quarterback?
RM: I don't really know if this offense can be conservative. We can score in many ways. If it's the run, play-action, drop back, whatever it may be. I don't really know what our goal is. All I know is we're going to go out and try to win games. If that consists of changing the way we call plays, or not changing, that's what it's going to be. For right now, we have a game plan. We're not slowing down. We are going to practice today and have a full day's work. Some people may not want to adjust to what happened but Tom is not coming back this year. Matt Cassel is our quarterback. O'Connell's his backup and [Matt] Gutierrez is the third quarterback. That's who we're going to war with. We have guys on this team who need to step up. That's just where we are. I don't think we need to change our offense by any means. Guys just need to step up and go out there and play ball.
Q: Have you worked enough with quarterback Matt Cassel to talk about his game? What do you think his strengths are?
RM: I don't really know. I don't really want to get into that because I am use to working with Tom [Brady]. He [Matt Cassel] has a great upside. I can't really answer your question to pinpoint and be exact. Really, the only performance I have seen has been in preseason. Each week in preseason we would come back and look at the things that we did right and the things we did wrong. We still have a lot of offense out there on the field. Matt Cassel has a great upside. It is up to us, teammates and coaches, to keep him upbeat and to keep everything positive because there are times during the season and during the games when there are negative plays and teams do step up and make that run. I think just by him being young, the biggest thing we can do is keep him upbeat, keep his spirits high and go out there and make things happen. I don't think that Cassel needs to do anything or we need to do anything. I think everybody just needs to do their job and my job is to score touchdowns and catch balls. His job is to distribute that ball and make good decisions with it. It is not just on myself or Cassel, it's on coach [Bill] Belichick and his coaching staff and all the guys dressed in uniform. Like I said at the beginning, we have our work cut out for us for but I think we are up for the challenge. It is early in the season to start all this speculating. We are just going to go out each week, put 11 [players] on the field and see if we can win the game.
Q: Do you like the fact that a lot of people doubt the Patriots' potential now that quarterback Tom Brady is out?
RM: I think that is a good way to motivate. Guys get motivated differently. When you put it on the team as a whole and say we as a unit aren't going to do anything, that is something that can motivate us. When you start talking about individual play that is hard but when you say 'The New England Patriots team is not going to be what they were suppose to be or what they thought they would be' then I think that is something that is going to motivate us to step up and try to make it happen.
Q: Have you been able to talk to quarterback Tom Brady much since he was injured? How has he been?
RM: He [Tom Brady] is still upbeat. You expect a guy to really be down on himself. I think he was more down last Sunday. Just from a few conversations and text messages, he is still positive. That is what you can hope for in a guy like Tom. Unfortunately, he is gone for the season with a knee injury. I don't know what happened to his knee but I know it is a knee injury. He is still the same old Tom Brady. I think that is what a lot people don't really understand. A lot of times when guys get hurt, you might not see him around the locker room for months at a time. We saw Tom today, I am not sure how much longer we are going to see him, but he is here today and has been uplifting and keeping a positive attitude. I think that goes a long way with not only him but the team as well.
Q: What was your initial reaction when you heard the New York Jets traded for quarterback Brett Favre?
RM: I think my initial reaction was that we are back to playing against each other in the same division. I think that was the biggest thing. I don't know too much about the [New York] Jets organization. I know a little bit about their players just by being here last year. I don't really know too much about the Jets organization and their philosophy. Just by him [Brett Favre] being there I know that uplifted the city and put a smile on the organization's face. Unfortunately, I am a good friend of Chad Pennington and the way it happened for him was bad. I felt for him and his family. Being able to have Favre back in the league and playing together twice during the year – I always loved that back in the NFC North with the Vikings and the Packers. Now it's the Jets and Patriots. I am still going to love seeing him out there throwing the ball. I don't think I am the only one that is happy that he came him back. It is a football thing. You don't want to see a person leave the game knowing they have a lot of football to be played. I am actually happy that he came back.
Q: What did you make of the fact that when quarterback Brett Favre was with the Green Bay Packers that he was trying to get them to trade for you?
RM: I think Brett [Favre] has been in the game long enough and been in that organization long enough that he knew what they were missing. Just with how things happened last year, I think they were probably missing one big-play wide receiver. They made it to the NFC Championship without that. I think Brett had more of a feel of what the organization needed to be able to make that Super Bowl run. Luckily that didn't happen. I think that is where a little bit of frustration might have set in last season. I was happy to be able to sign with the New England Patriots last season and then sign a new three-year deal with them. I don't think Green Bay was really what I was looking for. In all honesty, I think they were just entertaining that to keep Favre happy. I think once everything happened and I signed with the Patriots, I think Favre was probably wondering what happened with the Randy Moss deal. Things happen and this is a business. I think a lot of people have to look at it as a business and not just about playing football. I think when people look at it as a business they look past all the nonsense and get down to the real business side of professional football.
Q: With quarterback Brett Favre with the New York Jets and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady out for the season, do you think the Jets are the team to beat in the AFC East or close to the Patriots level?
RM: I don't really know. I think the New England Patriots have won this division over the last couple of years. So I think the New England Patriots are still the team to beat. We did have a big loss in Tom Brady, but we still have 10 guys out there on that field to go out there and make it happen. Tom was a big component to making our offense move and execute but now with him gone we have to find other ways to make the offense move. We are still the team to beat in this division and we will see what happens.
Q: How big of a reason was quarterback Tom Brady for you signing with the New England Patriots?
RM: It was a big factor but it wasn't the main factor. With me being here and being able to get with a team that is about 'team' and really expresses 'team'. That is really all I have been about is being a team player and having team success. I think that is what played a key factor in me coming back here was the overall team concept in the locker room and even in practice. It wasn't just about going 18-1 and having that Super Bowl appearance. With everything that we accomplished last year, we had a lot of fun behind close doors whether it was in the locker room or over at a guy's house watching film. They understand how to be a team and what winning is about around here. I can definitely appreciate that.