William Moore has not been able to spend as much time on the practice field as he would like as he continues to rehab the shoulder injury he suffered last season, but he's enjoying the new culture in Flowery Branch nonetheless.
"I like the chemistry around here, man. Coach got this team fired up, and I love it, man," Moore said. "The whole environment is just--it's great."
Moore is expected to the be the starting strong safety, and the free safety position is a little bit of a question mark at this point. Ricardo Allen has been getting first team reps at free safety, and Kemal Ishmael and Charles Godfrey are also possibilities at the position.
Regardless of how the free safety position shakes out, Moore is pleased with how the position group is performing to this point.
"Not just Ricardo, man--the entire group looks good," Moore said. "Kemal, he's one heck of a player. He's proven himself last year, and Godfrey's experienced. We've got a couple rookies that came in right now and they're picking up the playbook, number one. Everything else will take care of itself."
Moore said that Marquand Manuel, Atlanta's secondary coach and senior defensive assistant, is apparently following in Dan Quinn's footsteps and getting the team fired up as well as working to establish chemistry within the secondary.
Manuel's teaching style is very hands on. He's interactive with the players, and Moore said Manuel actually puts cleats on and shows the safeties exactly what he expects of them.
"He actually puts cleats on. He gets out there and goes over it with us, and that's huge, because some of us need that hands on, to show us," Moore said. "You could tell us a lot, but when you show us, it's huge for a lot of rookies and a lot of older guys."
One of Atlanta's biggest problems over the past couple of seasons was undoubtedly the pass rush, and a lack of pass rush makes the secondary's job more challenging. The Falcons obviously addressed this need in free agency with the acquisition of Adrian Clayborne and O'Brien Schofield, as well as through the draft with eighth-overall selection Vic Beasley.
Moore, acknowledging that it's difficult to assess any real improvement when there's no contact and nothing is full speed, is cautiously optimistic about improvement based on what he's seen so far, and his hopes for the defense for the coming season are high.
"We ain't got pads on yet, so it's hard to make assumptions, but from what I see on the field and then watching film, them guys are firing off the ball, man, and that's--I mean, not to say we weren't firing off the ball the past few years, but we've got smaller guys and faster guys," Moore said. "When you talk about Clayborn, Schofield--those guys, that whole new breed, man. That's going to be huge for the back end. We'll go from bottom of the league to hopefully top ten, I hope."
Coming back from injury and being physically limited while trying to learn a new scheme and playbook was a challenge for Moore. He compensated by spending more time watching film.
"I think I set myself at ease being in the film room a lot more," Moore said. "Of course it's frustrating, but by as much time as I spend in the film room, I feel like I keep myself up to par. I'm not getting behind, and I just want to hit the ground running when we get back for training camp."
Dan Quinn's secondary in Seattle allowed the fewest passing yards per game of any team last season while also racking up 31 turnovers, and Moore's been logging hours in the film room familiarizing himself with Seattle's approach.
Moore believes that coaching is a big part of what made Seattle's secondary successful, and with Dan Quinn on board, the Falcons can replicate that defensive success.
"That's 100% of the film I watch. The film don't lie," Moore said. "I watch Earl [Thomas] and Cam [Chancellor], two of the best safeties in the NFL, but most of that comes from a lot of good coaching, too, and for DQ to come down here--we've got a step ahead. He's a great defensive minded coach, and he puts a lot of emphasis on tackling. I think that's been one of our biggest things here for the past few years, and we work on that a lot. I think getting the ball and takeaways, they're going to come with pressure up front and a bunch of athletic guys, but tackling is number one."
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