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NFL Chemistry: Cleaning Up The Moss
by Bryan Leonard - 08/03/2007
Statistics are a major part of football handicapping analysis. Other factors are important, too such as home/field differentials and coaching. A less discussed factor is team chemistry, something which canâ€™t be quantified. You hear players, coaches and general managers speak all the time about having good â€œchemistryâ€쳌 on the team. One example of good chemistry is on the field between two players that need each other to be productive.
A quarterback needs good chemistry with his receivers, for example. Joe Montana and Jerry Rice had timing and reliability down to a tee when they played together, something we see now with QB Peyton Manning and WR Marvin Harrison.
Other times chemistry is something that takes place in the clubhouse. This is not something that you can find in box scores, either. Players need to get along and coaches need to ask for loyalty and respect from players, but also have to be smart enough to return the favor, as loyalty is not a one-way street.
Iâ€™ve wondered about the team chemistry of the Arizona Cardinals the last few years. This is a team that keeps getting hyped and many have expected significant improvement, but consecutive 5-11 seasons cost Dennis Green his job, despite adding RB Edgerrin James and rookie QB Matt Leinart. They get a chance to turn over a new lead with head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who was the Steelers offensive coordinator. There is certainly talent on offense with Leinart, and Pro Bowl wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, with the potential to be a deadly offense. They hope to be this yearâ€™s version of the Saints, who changed coaches a year ago and made it to the NFC title game.
Will there be tension in Jacksonville? Word is that Head Coach Jack Del Rio has never been keen on QB Byron Leftwich and wanted to take a QB in the draft but was overruled. Now heâ€™s stuck with Leftwich AND on the hot seat to make the playoffs, after last seasonâ€™s disappointing 8-8 finish.
Chemistry will be a concern in San Diego, too. Marty Schottenheimer may have been snake bitten in the postseason, but he was a popular coach the players liked playing for. Now heâ€™s gone and Norv Turner and a new staff take over. This will be very interesting to watch. With plenty of talent to work with, Turner is expected to win now.
Team chemistry was clearly a factor in the biggest NFL trade this offseason, with WR Randy Moss going to New England. New Oakland coach Lane Kiffin wants guys who can play, of course, and reports were that Moss wouldnâ€™t even return the new coachâ€™s calls. Moss has enormous talent and is a productive player on the field, but off the field heâ€™s constantly surrounded by controversy. It will be interesting to see is the chemistry problems Moss had in Minnesota and Oakland follow him to Foxboro.
Clubhouse chemistry was a major story during the 2001 NFL season when Patriots WR Terry Glenn was a nuisance and coach Bill Belichick laid down the law and released him. At the time it was a surprising move, as New England lacked for speed at wideout, yet they went on to win the Super Bowl without Glenn. Many NFL general managers and coaches took note and chemistry has since become more of a factor to pay attention to. The Patriotsâ€™ success showed that chemistry can be just as important talent, so Moss will either conform or be gone!