Atlanta Falcons Strong Safety William Moore is the NFC defensive player of the week. After turning in a massive performance against the New Orleans Saints in a Thursday Night matchup that included 11 tackles and 2 interceptions of Drew Brees, how could he not be?
Given the season that Moore and fellow safety Thomas DeCoud have had this season, it’s fairly realistic to believe that both of them could make the Pro Bowl, and that would almost certainly boost the amount of money Moore would demand in free-agency after this season. DeCoud received a 5-year $17 Million contract in March of this year, and I would expect Moore to get a contract somewhere in the neighborhood of that. However, according to Pro Football Talk, Moore has made comments that he’s not even close to being worried about a contract, he’s just concerning himself with playing the game he loves. That’s certainly music to any Falcons fans ears.
I think the most interesting part of Pro Football Talk’s article is that William Moore is leading the Falcons defense in tackles. That certainly took me by surprise. I would have expected Sean Weatherspoon or Stephen Nicholas to be leading the team in tackles. But that got me to thinking, and there are a couple points that need to be made on that.
First, Weatherspoon missed a few games dealing with his ankle injury. Otherwise he’d probably be leading the team.
Secondly, the Falcons don’t really use a true middle linebacker like some teams. Guys like Brian Urlacher up in Chicago or Curtis Lofton when he was still here were true MLBs whose primary responsibility was to stop the run, and as a result they always end up leading the team in tackles by big margins. Atlanta MLB Akeem Dent is rarely on the field except in obvious run situations, so other players must step up and make plays.
Third, in defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s scheme players are moving around so much that there’s no way to determine who is going to best fit the run. I’ve seen plays where cornerback Robert McClain has ended up in the middle of the defense and made the tackle up the middle. That’s really something.
The final, and most important point, is that both Weatherspoon and Nicholas are asked to extensively play coverage. Whether it be covering the running backs or tight ends, those two linebackers are playing the pass more than ever. So that’s certainly enough to really affect their tackle numbers in a downward direction.
I don’t think it matters who makes the tackles, as long as they are made. But it’s interesting to take a look at the reason Moore is leading the team in tackles from the safety position.