Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Break UnEven
By Ben Valentine

The Jets should not have made the Laveranues Coles/Santana Moss trade. There I said it. Or said it again, for those of you who made it through my last column.

Most people who know me could see this column a mile away. It was almost written two and a half weeks ago, when the news of this trade broke. Back then it was a rumor, one that was close to being completed according to the sources at our "good" "friends" ESPN.com. Rumor or not, the news had me so agitated, I was ready to write something right then and there, there being a classroom in NYU's journalism building. It pissed me off so much I was almost willing to stop talking with a very attractive young woman in my class to write it.

Like I said, almost. Hey, I'm human.

Besides, I was hoping that this would have been one of the myriad of bogus reported stories by ESPN this year. SHAQ OUT FOR THE YEAR. Nope, just day to day. NHL SEASON SAVED. Oops, turns out they may not play in 2005- 2006 either. So yeah, I was hoping ESPN was just reaching for news on a slow Friday.

The deal supposedly came close to falling apart. Then it was saved because the players wanted out. Or so they say. I'm not here to speculate on those matters; I don't have the insiders. My information comes from what they tell me and what I happen to stumble upon.

The bottom line, Coles is back after taking the money and running. Moss joins the long list of Ben Valentine favorite players who end up being dealt after disappointment. Again if you've read my last post, you can see. Of course, it could be worse. Drazen Petrovic didn't get traded, but let's not go there.
The curse of my favorite players continues. Here Moss fights another battle he can't win.

This could be a column lamenting the fates of my favorite players. But who wants to hear that? You're here for sports chatter. So I'm going to just analyze the trade. Ready?

You sure?

Okay here goes.

This trade certainly will not hurt the Jets. However, this trade doesn't make the Jets a Super Bowl team either.

Feeling cheated? Well so did I when this trade went down. Okay I said I wouldn't talk about that. Sorry... Anyway, the reality is that Coles has done more in his career than Moss has. But he hasn't done much more. Last year he had 90 catches, 950 yards receiving and one touchdown. Moss had 45 catches, 851 yards and five TDs. Talk all you want about the conservative nature of Joe Gibbs' offense, and Coles has yapped a lot about it, the fact is the guy got the ball thrown to him a ton last year. 90 catches. One touchdown. Sounds like the season another ex-Jet, Keyshawn Johnson, had a couple of years ago. Nobody is selling their first-born to get him. Coles has suffered the nagging effects of a toe injury. He's had it for two years now with no sign of it going away. Thus he's not the same player he was in his breakout year with the Jets.

So Coles isn't the difference maker. Relationship with Chad Pennington or no, the fact is Coles is a slower, slighty healthier version of Santana Moss. I mean come on, the guy is a 5'10-5'11 posession receiever.

As for Moss, the critiques on him are fair. He had his best year when the Jets went 6-10. His career has been plagued by injuries. Hell, his hamstring has been busted more frequently than Jose Reyes'. I still remember him being hurt in a Miami Hurricanes game against Washington. The U needed Moss to step up as they were starting a relatively baby-faced sophomore Ken Dorsey in the toughest place to play in college football(Editor's note: Damn straight!). He played, but had a miserable game. Miami lost their only game and didn't get to play in the national championship game, despite being the best team in country and probably the best college football team of all time. (You think I'm exaggerating. Even Zach, a huge Washington fan admits that Hurricane team might have been the greatest collection of talent ever assembled on a football team)
Coles is back. Moss is gone. So is the cornerback who is defending Moss and Coles in the pictures. I thought the NFL had the least movement of every major sports league.

Moss has always been a game breaker when healthy. But he's not always healthy. In fact he's healthy about half the time. He's not great at going over the middle. He still has problems running routes. And while his punt return game is volatile, it's erratic. He's small for a wide out. Yes, I realize he's a free agent come next year and the Jets weren't anxious to bring him back. He'd still be cheaper than Coles.

Bottom line, the Jets gain stability for explosiveness. The trade off is not substantial enough to affect them postively or negatively. They still need another wide out. They could still use a cornerback. They need to figure out a way to replace Kareem MacKenzie and Jason Fergueson. Those factors will do more to decide the Jets' fate next year than Coles ever will.

The definition of a lateral move. The end result is one less Jet I like is on the team. And in a trade that does nothing, that's plenty for me not be happy about.

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