The 2012 NFL off-season has seen the return of two of the game's greatest, and most controversial, stars. Sometimes remembered by their antics and attitudes rather than their Hall Of Fame-caliber numbers, Randy Moss and Terrell are both back in the NFL. While they have both put up some of the best numbers we've seen from Wide Receivers (emphasis on some of, Jerry Rice and his numbers speak for themselves), fans of the 49ers and Seahawks should temper their expectations of the two.
Owens has had quite a few years since he last played in the NFL. He's torn an ACL, become part owner/player for an Indoor Football League (the Allen Wranglers), and filed for bankruptcy. Since he's been gone, he has been, for lack of a better term, Owens-like. Always one to stir up the proverbial media pot, Owens has been in the news the last year and a half and very little of it had to do with him being on the field.
Now back to the present. Owens signed a one-year-deal with the Seahawks recently. The Seahawks are a team that has struggled to find that dynamic number one receiver for a while now, and they hope Owens can become that number one. They have a solid run game with Marshawn Lynch in the backfield and need someone out wide that can take some pressure/heat off Lynch. With new Quarterback Matt Flynn calling plays this season, Seattle hopes for a dynamic passing duo to compliment the running game.
But Seahawks fans shouldn't get too excited about Owens and Flynn. For starters, Flynn has only started two games in the NFL. A successful college quarterback, the Seahawks invested a lot in Flynn, hoping the flashes of talent he displayed in his end of season starts were indicative of his potential as a full-time starter. But the bigger question mark is Owens. Owens will be 39 in December. He had major knee surgery less than two years ago. And he hasn't played an NFL down in two years.
That's a lot of rust for an older player. Owens is definitely an athletic-freak; he's probably in better shape than a lot of other players let alone guys near his age. But with so much mileage on his body, it's hard to imagine him continuing to put up number one receiver type numbers. And with Seattle being a shaky team that projects to finish at around .500, will Owens stay happy? Because when T.O. isn't happy, things can get ugly. Just ask the...
...San Francisco 49ers. The Niners know all about how hotheaded Owens can be. He spent the first eight seasons of his career in San Francisco. While Owens provided a very memorable moment with a touchdown catch in a playoff game in 1998 against the Packers, most fans will remember him for his antics (eating a fans popcorn, pulling a sharpie out of his sock and signing a ball, and standing at the star at the Cowboys stadium). But with all that said, the Niners signed Randy Moss, another player known for his questionable actions on the field.
Just like Owens, Moss is projected to be a top target on a revamped passing offense. However, the Niners will still look to keep their focus on the ground game. With their strength on the ground and the presence of a crowded receiving corps, Moss likely won't get the looks he's gotten with his previous teams. These two factors are key reasons why expectations with Moss should be tempered. While he'll undoubtedly help the team, fans shouldn't expect anything close to the nearly 1,500 yards and 23 touchdowns he had in 2007 with the Patriots. Another thing working against Moss is his age. Moss is 35 and didn't play at all last season after spending 2010 with three different teams. Moss doesn't have a track record of injuries, but it remains to be seen what he has left in the tank.
In the past, Moss has been accused of "taking plays off" and "not going 100%." 49ers fans should take solace in the face that it appears as though effort won't be an issue this season. Moss is near the end of his career and wants a title like so many athletes do. He came close when the Patriots went 18-0 before falling to the Giants in the Super Bowl. His desire to win should drive him to a quality season in terms of production and helping the younger receivers.
So which future Hall of Famer will have the better season? Moss definitely has the inside track on this one. Moss is on the better team, will receive less coverage attention due to the other receiving options, isn't coming off a big injury, and is younger. Both men have question marks at quarterback, Alex Smith will look to build off his successful 2011 season and Flynn was discussed above, so there's a possibility both men will struggle. But come season's end, look for Moss to have the better numbers and to reach the playoffs in search of the elusive title.
**All stats obtained from pro-football-reference.com**