Two years ago, Santana Moss was a pretty big wheel in the nation's capital. That year, he posted the third best DPAR among wide receivers. Moss caught over 60% of all passes targeting him. He had no less than 5 receptions of 50 or more yards. And he received for nearly half of Mark Brunell's 3,050 passing yards. It was the capper on a slick little 3 year run for Moss, but it was also the last season that Moss would be a productive per play receiver.
Two years ago, Marcus Trufant was a good young cover corner on a truly rotten secondary. Tru was frequently left on an island, with predictable results. The two met twice that season, and Moss netted 190 yards, 13 catches and a score. This season, though, Tru has become one of the best corners in all of football, on a secondary that allows him to flaunt it. Rematch?
Conveniently enough, Moss plays almost exclusively from the flanker spot, and Tru, opposite at left corner. Moss is a complete receiver in the sense that he can run a slant underneath,
|a quick hook for a first or a double move deep. He's 5'10, but plays smaller. Though Moss is only occasionally shutdown, his counting stats mask the fact that for as much as he's targeted, he only turns that target into a reception on 53% of all plays. Moss is quick, but doesn't get the separation he once did. Nor does he leap like he once did. As such, slight and quick, but no longer sensationally fast, Moss needs a quarterback who can hit him in stride, or just out of his cuts. If he's not quickly identified as open, or matched against a corner that can limit separation from the onset, Moss is boned. He just isn't very good at outcompeting a DB for the ball.
Tru, then, is a perfect match for Moss. Trufant's coverage skills should make Todd Collins think twice before targeting Moss, and should he chuck it Moss's way anyhow, Tru has developed the ball skills and chemistry with safety Deon Grant to make him pay. Or, on a deep double move, a staple of the Redskins offense, Tru can provide the solid coverage that allows Grant to freelance underneath. Either way, it's nice to know that against the Skins' #1 receiver, the Hawks are perfectly staffed for domination.
Matchupalooza: Santana Moss Vs Marcus Trufant
By John Morgan