Moore was one of the unrestricted free agents from Atlanta’s 2012 roster whom general manager Thomas Dimitroff coveted. Instead of letting Moore test the free-agent market—which the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported was Moore’s wish—Atlanta paid him well.
Moore was a huge part of Mike Nolan’s new defense in Atlanta in 2012 and part of a safety tandem with Thomas DeCoud that wreaked havoc on opposing offenses. Since the Falcons released cornerback Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes is an unrestricted free agent, the outside of the Falcons’ defensive backfield is riddled with question marks.
But the middle is solid, as both Moore and DeCoud are locked up through the 2016 season. Here are three reasons why this move was vitally important for the Falcons.
Moore Is a Force to Be Reckoned With
There’s an age-old question about which is stronger: the immovable object or the unstoppable force. Sometimes Moore is both—it depends on the situation.
Moore hasn’t found a ball-carrier he doesn’t enjoy blasting, which has earned him the nickname “C4.” His highlight-reel hits have become commonplace, and offensive players seem to always know where he is because Moore can bring the pain with his brutalizing impacts.
Even though Moore missed four games last season, he finished fifth on the team with 75 tackles. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon missed three games and was the team’s second-leading tackler with 96. It’s safe to say Weatherspoon and Moore are Atlanta’s best tackling options on the defense, and this team needs both out on the field.
Moore and DeCoud Go Together Like Peas and Carrots
Not that Moore and DeCoud have a Forest Gump-Jenny loving relationship, but they do love playing together and love Nolan’s new system that’s not technically safety driven, but allows the two to play mid games with opposing quarterbacks.
From very early on in Nolan’s tenure with the Falcons—even before training camp—Moore spoke about how fond he and DeCoud were of the new defense. Both safeties used the word “fun,” and both raved about its aggressive nature and the freedom it gave the two to move around pre-snap.
The duo used confusion to their advantage on multiple occasions. Who could forget the three first-quarter interceptions of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in Week 2? The five-interception Week 13 night against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints was a special moment as well.
Nolan asks DeCoud to set the defense quickly to allow him and Moore to swap sides, depths or even positions to give the offense unique looks. The safeties have this down to a well-working technique now, and more time together is only going to enhance its effectiveness.
Moore Is Becoming a Ball Hawk
After missing all but two games to injury during his rookie campaign, Moore’s picked off 11 passes in the three years since.
Moore was a Pro Bowler last season in part because of the way he patrolled the middle of the field looking for impact and also because of the way he made the air space across the middle very difficult to navigate.
Between Moore (who had four picks last season) and DeCoud (who had six), the two Falcons safeties fed off making quarterbacks feel there were openings in between the hash marks that just weren’t there.
DeCoud finished in a tie for fifth in the NFL with his six picks last year, and Moore was tied for 11th. No safety tandem had more picks that their 10.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.