Falcons strong safety William Moore is known for two things: his physical style of play, and his rap skills. During a season when the Falcons have struggled on both sides of the ball, Moore has been pretty consistent, delivering bone-crushing hits and creating exciting plays, like a forced fumble against Tampa Bay that his fellow safety Thomas DeCoud recovered and ran in for a touchdown.
As a result, Moore has also been fined several times this season, racking up a total of $52,500 in fines for hits against the Saints, Patriots and Cardinals, and will likely see another figure added to that total after being flagged for a helmet-to-helmet call for a hit on Seahawks receiver Golden Tate. Moore plans to appeal any and all fines he receives from the league this season.
On Monday, Moore spoke with the media about the penalties, asserting that defensive players aren't purposely seeking to harm defenseless players, they're just trying to make plays. Safety Thomas DeCoud said recently that seeing Moore working hard to make plays has encouraged DeCoud to elevate his play as well, although we're not necessarily seeing the results from DeCoud.
Head coach Mike Smith acknowledged that the team has discussed Moore's technique with him, because they don't want him to get lumped in with players like the Bucs' Dashon Goldson, who had a one-game suspension for a hit on Saints running back Darren Sproles reduced to a $100,000 fine, which is still extreme, and illustrative of the reputation Goldson has earned around the league as a dirty player. The Falcons obviously don't want to see Moore perceived that way around the league. Smitty would like to see Moore maintain the same level of aggression, while limiting hits to the "strike zone," from below the shoulders to above the knees.
Moore also expressed confusion at the fact that Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was not penalized for grasping Moore's face mask on one of Lynch's explosive plays on Sunday. The photo of the play has been widely circulated as an example of Lynch's "Beast Mode" style of play. While Lynch is not grasping the face mask, which is likely the reason it wasn't a penalty in real time, had Lynch performed the same motion as a defensive player, he likely would have been flagged for illegal hands to the face. That's a penalty that officials tend to let slide for ball carriers, calling it a "stiff arm" instead. Moore believes it's possible that defensive players bear the brunt of the league's rules for player safety, and that offensive players tend to get a pass on those kinds of plays, but it's not something he's upset or concerned about, as it is beyond his control.
When asked after Sunday's game about the fans leaving early, Moore was circumspect. He said that he assumes the fans who left early are good fans and supporters of the team, but that the fans come to see the Falcons win, and the team hasn't delivered.
While the continued losses are clearly taking a mental and emotional toll on the team, Moore says, "We just have to stay strong mentally as a team and find a way to win." Moore's physical style of play can only help, particularly when the defense has been on the field for an average of 30:56 per game and other defensive players look to Moore to set the standard.