How important will safeties be in Mike Nolan's new scheme. Daniel Cox makes a powerful argument for William Moore and Thomas DeCoud taking a step forward in 2012.
As I've written in the past, I believe at least Moore is due for a leap thanks to his superior talent. The new defensive outlook should only improve that, but it's what Cox notes about the role of safeties in Nolan's defense that really interests me.
Safeties have played important roles in Nolan’s defenses in the past and have had big seasons doing it. As the coordinator with the Jets in 2000, Victor Green enjoyed his best season with six interceptions (one returned for a TD) and four fumble recoveries. During his ’02-’04 run with the Ravens, he oversaw Ed Reed’s development into one of the best safeties to ever play the position. He also coached Brian Dawkins with Denver in 2009, a safety regarded as one of the most feared players in the league during his career.
So what does that mean for DeCoud and Moore?
Looking at that list, you get the sense that the safeties who thrive under Nolan are the ones who are allowed to gamble. Reed is a gambler, a guy who wants to come up with the ball. Ditto Dawkins. Green isn't the player the other two have been, but he had a fine year because Nolan asked him go make plays on the ball and he did. Natural athletes, guys with good instincts who play well when given a little bit of leash to do what they will, those are the guys who win out.
Moore is that guy, and a big hitter like Dawkins besides. He's already come up with interceptions and forced fumbles and put himself in a position to make a play time and time again, so this is natural. All Nolan's going to ask him to do is sharpen up his instincts a bit and be aggressive.
DeCoud's a little different, of course. He's got the talent and certainly can ballhawk, but his instincts and field awareness seem to flag at times. If he can correct that, though, he too should thrive under Nolan.
All of this is dependent on having a decent pass rush, to some extent, but I am optimistic. The talent is there.
What do you think of Moore and DeCoud in 2012?