End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.
Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.
Player: Arthur Moats
Position: Outside Linebacker
Experience: 5 Years
Arthur Moats was a former sixth-round draft pick of the Bills who never quite managed to find his niche in Buffalo’s ever-changing defensive system. When he signed a one-year, veteran-minimum free agent contract with the Steelers, it wasn’t even clear initially if he was more suited to play inside linebacker or on the outside. The numbers game dictated on the outside, but his play showed that that is where he clearly belongs anyway.
Moats proved to be one of the Steelers’ key, and shrewdest, offseason moves, though it was circumstances that provided that opportunity. Starting right outside linebacker Jarvis Jones had most of his regular season wiped out by injury, and lost his starting spot upon his return. Moats started eight of the games that Jones missed.
Of course, he never got to fully enjoy the spoils that go along with a full-time gig as a starter, because when Jones down, the Steelers brought in James Harrison, who consumed his share of snaps in rotation with Moats from the very next game. Over the course of the next couple months, Harrison’s snaps increased until the coaching staff made the decision to put him out on the field first.
That should be no reflection on Moats’ performance, however, because there was nothing in his game to immediately indicate that he shouldn’t be starting, or that he couldn’t handle the full workload. It was just a schematic decision that the coaching staff made based on the fact that they hadn’t counted on Moats taking on such a huge role.
The fact of the matter is that, despite starting eight games, he only logged 350 snaps, including the postseason, which was just over a third of the team’s total defensive snaps. Yet he was still productive, notching 23 tackles, a career-high four sacks, and two forced fumbles, which was also a personal best.
I won’t go so far as to suggest that his prorated numbers of 60+ tackles, 10+ sacks, and 5+ fumbles would be an accurate indication of the type of performance that Moats could deliver as a full-time starter, because it does tend to be simpler and easier to perform in volume within a rotation.
But his numbers do show that he has learned quickly how to be productive in the Steelers’ system, and the team would be foolish not to re-sign him, especially given how much he seems to want to stay put. I don’t know that you put him in the starting lineup—I don’t rule it out, either—but he is a great piece to have on the team.