Throughout the offseason, there seems to have been a fair bit of talk about the acquisition of Arthur Moats via free agency and how the signing could turn out to be one of the more underrated moves of the year.
Though he only signed a veteran-minimum contract, he seems to have already established himself as the third outside linebacker behind starters Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones, and could be the first man up on either side in case of injury, as Worilds was for years.
In truth, I didn’t see much either positively or negatively from Moats’ performance during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first preseason game last week. Outside of a play here and there, he was largely a nonfactor, particularly as a pass rusher, even when lined up across from a tight end.
Moats’ lone tackle came on his second possession of the game, when he allowed tight end Larry Donnell to catch the pass. The linebacker responded well, however, by tackling him before he reached the first down marker. Donnell didn’t make it easy on Moats in either the running game or the passing game.
Still, he did show a nice pass rush on this one occasion to end the New York Giants’ first drive of the second half, getting good push against the backup right tackle and into Ryan Nassib’s face. The pressure forced him to throw the ball early, and underthrow it as well, which allowed Brice McCain to get his body between the ball and the receiver.
This is certainly not the most exciting play of the game, but it does show some awareness from the veteran linebacker that certainly makes him valuable as a reserve. Being able to trust your backups to be where they’re supposed to be is crucial, and perhaps their most valuable commodity as players.
Admittedly, Nassib doesn’t do much to sell the run on this bootleg, though it does get the inside linebackers moving to the left. Moats, on the other hand, stayed balanced, and dropped to defend the tight end route while watching for a quarterback scramble, which resulted in Nassib heaving one toward the sideline.
I also like his determination on the next snap after getting caught up in the right side of the offensive line. Moats worked between the two offensive linemen as the left defensive end looped around the edge, but it was the penetrating right end that got the pressure on the play to end the possession for the Giants.