I usually stick to opinion, humor and/or hate in my sporadic posts. If I wrote for the peanuts they must feed the wretched staff at the Denver Post, that would make me a columnist (think Woody Paige). Definitely not an analyst (the DP doesn’t have a real one for football) or reporter (Ditto!). Yet defensive back play is the one area I could go all Ted Bartlett on you guys while actually imparting a little football knowledge (don't think Woody Paige). You see, I played CB from Pop Warner thru high school. This included hundreds of practices, dozens of games and many hours of coaching/film/summer camps to sharpen my understanding of overall defense and the specific duties of a CB. I was no superstar, but I paid enough attention and saw enough snaps to learn a thing or two about secondary play.
I know what went wrong on the worst play in Bronco history. Let me be clear here. No one, not the coaches nor the other ten defenders on the field made a mistake on that play. That TD is entirely on Rahim Moore and him alone. I haven’t seen the all-22 film, but we appeared to be in a 3 deep zone defense with a three man rush (three safety deep). On the pass rush, Ayers got fantastic pressure up the middle which forced Flacco from the pocket. Tony Carter tracked the WR (Jones) that entered and then exited his middle sideline zone. Carter, as he should have, handed Jones off to the deep sideline FS (Moore). Moore was absolutely in position to make that play when the ball left Flacco's hand. There was nothing wrong with the defensive call nor the work of Moore’s ten teammates. All Moore did wrong was misplay the flight of the ball. I'll get to the why in a second.
I won’t harp about “technique” in order to make myself sound smarter than you. The terms I use are coach-speak and don’t feel like you’re not part of an exclusive club if you don’t recognize them. Knowing too much about certain aspects of football and the Broncos makes me a dork. When you hear to phrase “flipping your hips” as a defensive back, it literally means the process of changing from a back peddle to a forward run or vice versa. And it’s done so while continuing to move in relatively the same direction you had been traveling. A DB often flips his hips at the point in a route were the WR crosses the DBs body (either his face or his back) and the DB transitions from his back-peddle to a forward run in order to keep pace with the still running WR. You’ll see this happen more often in man-to-man coverage than zone since a DB isn’t really supposed to be running out of his zone to chase a WR still running his route.
Let me give you a visual and/or a trip down memory lane. I went to my nephew’s little league baseball game a little while back. He’s nine and he sucks at baseball. He is far more likely to captain his high school debate team on his way to Princeton than become the next Jim Edmonds or Ichiro Suzuki (stud MLB outfielders for you non baseball guys). Because he sucks, his coach put my nephew in leftfield. Unfortunately for him, the other team had some left handed batters that hit a couple fly balls in my nephew’s direction, but over his head. In trying to catch these hits, he flipped his hips several times from his back peddle to forward running to this Irish river-dance Kris-Kross thingy he’d do with his legs. As the ball (every time) landed harmlessly in the grass 10 feet behind him, my nephew was left facing home-plate, arm outstretched, eyes closed and totally out of position to make the play. Save for the awkward and poorly timed jump, my nephew Rahim Moore’d the ball. Result? Error. TD in Moore’s case, but really the same thing.
And you know, I probably fielded fly balls the same way when I was a 9 year old little leaguer. But I stuck with the sport and by the time I was 13, several coaches taught me that that only way to properly field fly balls heading over your head was to turn and run towards where the ball was headed while looking over your shoulder to track its flight. You can visualize this or visualize exactly what it looks like when a WR goes after a bomb. In going after the ball, you don’t flip your hips, you don’t back peddle or sidestep. You sprint to the spot where the ball will land looking over your shoulder the entire time. As a baseball outfielder, only once you reach the point where the ball will land do you then flip your hips back again (time permitting) to face the ball and make the catch.
You guys getting all bent out of shape at Del Rio and Co for Moore’s position are flat out wrong. Rahim Moore was positioned just fine to make the play on the Jacoby Jones TD. He was well within his speedy range to get to the point where the ball would land. He just elected to play the football the way a crappy 9 year old outfielder does.
So what exactly happened on the play? When Flacco threw the ball, Moore began running forward towards the area where it was going to land (this was proper technique). For some inexplicable reason, about 10 yards from where he need to get, Rahim Moore flipped his hips towards Joe Flacco and began to back-peddle. He broke off his sprint at least 10 yards too soon and in doing so, he lost all his speed, threw himself off balance, lost his orientation on the field, really lost his orientation on the ball and lastly broke into his own version of an Irish river-dance (legs a Kris-Krossing – just watch the video, it’s pretty easy to find). It was simply a goofy as hell attempt by Moore to play that ball. The result was the worst play in Bronco history, yet funny enough, Rahim Moore’s mistake on that pass doesn’t distress me in the least when considering the long view on his career. It may end up costing us a Super Bowl in 2013 (the short view), but it’s an entirely fixable flaw for future games.
If you guys remember the Tampa Bay game back in early December, you may remember a very similar play that occurred at roughly the same spot on Invesco field. During this play, Moore let a WR (I think it was V Jackson) get behind him. Freeman, a plus armed QB like Flacco, unleashed a bomb that surprised Moore in terms of its distance traveled. In this case (just like on Saturday), Moore was still in position to use his speed (range) and make a play on that Freeman bomb. Exactly like the J Jones bomb, Moore employed the same crappy technique vs Tampa, but in this instance was able to bail himself out with an unbelievable display of vertical jumping that allowed him to bat away a pass he grossly misplayed otherwise (if someone can find video of this play, please imbed it in the comments. As it’s nothing more than an incomplete pass, it may be hard to find but check the 2nd half). Anyway, the next day, I mentioned in the comments of someone’s post how impressed I was with Moore’s jumping ability while eviscerating his ghastly coverage technique of a ball in flight.
So if you want to get mad at Del Rio and Co, here is your beef. If it wasn’t apparent to Jack Del Rio and the DB coach after the Tampa game, is sure as ish is now. Rahim Moore displays god-awful coverage technique playing a deep ball heading over his head. This shortcoming is really easy to address and fix. Set up a jugs machine, aim it to the sky, put Moore 15 yards off the line of scrimmage, fire off a 1,000 deep balls and make Moore chase them. If he so much as once flips his hips from a tracking the ball over his shoulder sprint into his Irish Riverdance routine, make him run a mile or do 250 pushups. I think he’ll work on this over the summer and have proper technique down by June. It’s nothing like the herculean task of fixing Tebow’s throwing motion based on his terribly flawed muscle memory. Moore just hasn’t been coached properly (thanks Milus). Somehow, probably by being the best player in Pop Warner, the star of his high school conference and the top safety in the PAC-12, no coach noticed that he played the deep ball with the impatience and technique of a nine year old future debate team stud. It’s a huge deal in that it cost us dearly in a season wasted. It’s a minor thing to fix. The past is the past is it not?
So with Moore, just take the long view. If he wasn’t 21 back then, I was ready to write him off after his rookie year. But our coaching staff got ahold of him and turned his career around 180 degrees (or sadly 360 degrees regarding his deep ball technique). Rahim made massive gains in so many areas of his play during his second season. This is called player development. A completely foreign concept to Josh McDaniels, but something Fox and Co have demonstrated impressive aptitude in regards to: Moore, Beadles, Walton, Chris Harris, Tony Carter, Vickerson, Franklin, Decker, D Thomas, you see where I’m going with this? Unfortunately with Moore, they missed something, maybe it cost that Milus dude his DB coaching job. But Bronco fans, this thing Moore doesn't do well will be addressed in the offseason and it will be fixed by training camp. At that time, Rahim Moore will be a 23 year old rapidly ascending starter. Not exactly someone I’d cut or trade or hate. That’s just my two cents.
Or listen to the experts that bring you the Vampire Dairies. Your call.
In closing…. FU Bill Vinovich and your “all-star” crew of officials. Seriously. Go F yourself.