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Falcons Strong Safety Review: Willy Mo Ready Most of the Time

William Moore took all the snaps at strong safety for the Falcons last season. Let's review his performance.

Scott Cunningham

William Moore was coming off of a Pro Bowl season in 2013, and hopes were high for Moore on the field in 2013. To borrow a phrase from head coach Mike Smith--the Falcons didn't get the outcome they wanted, Moore still put together a pretty decent season.

The Falcons also have Zeke Motta on the roster, a 7th round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Motta doesn't necessarily have the speed to play free safety, although he did fill in there for Thomas DeCoud when he was injured and/or benched last season. He played strong safety in college, so he's likely considered the backup there as well. Kemal Ishmael played free safety throughout his college career, so I'm not going to consider Ishmael a potential backup at strong safety for the purposes of this review.

Moore played 1064 defensive snaps--the most on the team--and finished the season with a Pro Football Focus grade of -2.7, which isn't great. His grade--and his bank account--were adversely impacted by his propensity toward unnecessary roughness penalties. Moore finished the season with two sacks, two quarterback hits and three quarterback hurries. They didn't use the safety blitz often, but when they did, Moore made the most of it. Moore also had three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, three interceptions, and eight pass deflections. Moore also had 67 solo tackles and 19 assists. His combined 86 tackles are good for second on the team in 2013, and that's only because Paul Worrilow may be superhuman. Moore also had 17 missed tackles, which is not great.

Motta played 158 defensive snaps at free safety. Pro Football Focus gave him a -1.4 grade overall. Motta had one pass deflection and eight tackles and eight assists. He also played many of those snaps with a broken hand, so I'm inclined to cut him some slack.

Best Game: Week 13

William Moore's efforts were a fundamental part of Atlanta's overtime win over the Buffalo Bills in week 13 of the 2013 season. Moore forced a fumble in overtime that allowed the Falcons to force a change of possession and execute a game-winning drive. Moore also finished the game with six combined tackles and two pass deflections.

Worst Game: Week 10

Everybody had a bad game against Seattle. Moore got manhandled by Marshawn Lynch. I'd prefer to never discuss it again.

Best Moment: this tackle


Worst Moment:

Hey, remember when the Falcons lost at home to the Saints? It was a game that nobody thought Atlanta could win, and yet they hung with New Orleans and actually maintained a lead for a chunk of the game. Desmond Trufant very nearly came up with an interception, and then he was basically knocked out by William Moore. I don't mean that Trufant was knocked out of the play, or that the ball was knocked out of his hands--I mean that William Moore hit Trufant and it quite literally looked like Trufant lost consciousness briefly. A pick at that point could have changed the course of the game. It was not a shining moment.

Years Under Contract

Moore 2014: ($5.15 million) 2015: ($5.65 million 2016: ($6.65 million) 2017: ($8.65 million)

Motta 2014: ($506,474) 2015: ($596,474) 2016: ($686,474)

Roster Changes

Moore is under contract for the next four seasons, and he has certainly played well enough to remain on the roster. Cutting him would also result in $10.1 million in dead money, so no thank you. It's possible that the Falcons would try to upgrade their backup strong safety options via the draft, but with so many other positions of need and Moore's relative durability, I think they'll stick with continuing to develop Zeke Motta for the coming season.

Final Grade: B-

Willy Mo was not always ready in 2013, but he was ready most of the time. He gets a B- for his efforts last season. He would have received a B if not for the costly penalties. His hard-hitting style of play is fun to watch, but the penalties were extremely detrimental to a team that really couldn't afford them last season.