Atlanta Falcons: Big season ahead for DeCoud, Moore

Falcons safeties Thomas DeCoud (left) and William Moore get ready for a game last season. The Falcons, and the tandem, are counting on a big season this year.  Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons safeties Thomas DeCoud (left) and William Moore get ready for a game last season. The Falcons, and the tandem, are counting on a big season this year. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Vivlamore reporting from Flowery Branch.

FLOWERY BRANCH – There have, admittedly, been growing pains.

The Falcons invested high draft picks on Thomas DeCoud and William Moore with the hopes they could develop into a safety tandem for years to come. As they enter their third year together as starters neither is shy about stating the importance of this season for the duo.

“This is the year that we are really going to hit our stride in terms of knowing our own system, knowing how to play off each other and knowing what each others weaknesses are,” DeCoud said after a recent training camp practice. “It’s about time we got that ball rolling and really start playing some really, really good football.”

DeCoud was a third-round draft pick (No. 98 overall) in 2008. He re-signed with the Falcons in March before becoming a free agent. Moore followed as a second-round selection (No. 55 overall) in 2009. He has one year remaining on his original four-year deal.

The investment has been made. Now the Falcons need the payoff.

The Falcons finished 20th in the NFL in passing defense last season (236.6 yards per game) and 22nd the previous year (226.6). The blame for those numbers does not solely rest with the safeties but for the past two seasons they have served as the team’s final line of defense.

“There were a lot of mental errors,” Moore said. “I don’t want to get into the past but [former defensive coordinator Brian] Van Gorder’s system was line up and play and we had a lot of mental errors on the back end. [We] were meant for [new defensive coordinator Mike] Nolan’s defense as far as we like to move around, we like to roam a little bit. But yes, there were a lot of growing pains.”

The Falcons have challenged the pair. Last season, the team brought in veteran James Sanders. Management and coaches made it clear the move was not made to simply add depth. Veteran Chris Hope was signed this offseason.

DeCoud and Moore said they have developed chemistry over the past two seasons and that they are learning from their mistakes, acknowledging that it takes time.

“Safety is a position of experience,” DeCoud said. “There are things that you don’t see in your first year, second year, third year. In your fourth year there will be things that you haven’t seen yet. The more stuff we see, the more stuff we’ve been beaten by, the more stuff we know and know how respond or get corrected.”

While they have different builds, DeCoud and Moore consider themselves “hybrid” safeties, each capable of playing the free and strong position, each able to play up in the box or roam center field. DeCoud (6-feet, 192 pounds) is the athletic ball hawk. Moore (6-feet, 221 pounds) is the physical presence who, as he says, “every blue moon could blend with the linebackers.”

DeCoud is the loud one. He can often been heard singing, along with linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, on the practice sidelines to cheer on teammates. He played all 16 games last season with 73 tackles and 19 assists. He added four interceptions, half of his career total of eight. “DeCoud, for his frame, is one of the strongest guys I’ve ever seen,” Moore said. “You wouldn’t think he could stick people the way he does. I love it.”

Moore is the quiet one. His outward demeanor is more serious. He played in 12 games last season, missing four with a groin injury. He had 41 tackles and 14 assists. He added two interceptions after five the previous season. “He is a bigger body than I am, a bit more physical,” DeCoud said of Moore. “But he’s not afraid to get back in coverage.”

During a recent practice, Moore batted a pass attempt into the air. DeCoud intercepted the ball and, as he ran down field, shouted ‘If you don’t want it, I’ll take it!’

See? Chemistry.

“I don’t want to sound too cocky, but the Falcons are lucky to have two hybrid safeties where one can play in the box, one can play deep, where one can play center field and one can mix it up, no matter who it is,” DeCoud said. “We carry that torch very well.”

- Chris Vivlamore

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74 comments Add your comment

SeenThisB4

August 13th, 2012
12:38 pm

Nite Owl

August 13th, 2012
12:47 pm

@Seen:

That’s it. You have had some kind of chip implanted into your brain, alerting you when a new blog post is up.

Hybrid is nice, as long as you’re really good at doing both things. Fewer missed tackles, fewer missed assignments, more punishment for receivers coming over the middle. That’s what we need.

And we need William Moore (*knocking on wood*) to stay healthy.

Speaking of Hope, I wonder how much he’s pushing/teaching these guys?

SeenThis B4

August 13th, 2012
12:50 pm

One thing they do have in common: Brees will burn them both.

win.

August 13th, 2012
12:51 pm

ALLBLACKBIRD

August 13th, 2012
12:58 pm

THE FALCONS ARE READY

JSS

August 13th, 2012
1:04 pm

They need all the help on the Green Earth, DeCoud is just a lost cause… Moore is very talented, not as good on coverage as some try to make out, but you can actually teach him up… He has got to stay healthy! Safety has been a scapegoat position on this team… One person has been consistent in failing, the Skateboard Wannabe Faux Hawk route jumper!

PMC

August 13th, 2012
1:14 pm

I’ll believe this when I see it.

Michael M.

August 13th, 2012
1:14 pm

The main caption on this article is ” Falcons finished 20th in the NFL in passing defense last season (236.6 yards per game) and 22nd the previous year (226.6) “. that should improve greatly if the preseason opener is a sign and indication of things to come………the defense had 9 plays in three series, 3 downs and sit down again…………..now you getting that continuously throughout the ballgame you going to keep a well rested defense and its easy to keep a pass happy quarterback on the sidelines when you can stay fresh. I wonder if they can get after a run first ground and pound ball team say like the 49ers as good as they handled Flacco and the Ravens in that 1st quarter the other night ?

PMC

August 13th, 2012
1:15 pm

Why were two guys who went to very good universities and are both very intelligent making mental errors years into the same system?

Michael M.

August 13th, 2012
1:22 pm

Hate to say this PMC but how can one be sure it was mental error instead of physical ability, some of it could have been the soft defense they played under when Van Gorder was here………….

rollo lawson

August 13th, 2012
1:23 pm

Once again, we see where an inept coordinator stymied the growth of young players. This time on the defensive side of the ball. I think William Moore, if he stays healthy, could have a Pro Bowl season. In part, because he finally has a NFL-caliber defensive coordinator putting him in position to best utilize his talent (ball-hawking and blitzing). DeCoud could have had 8 ints. last year if not for so many drops and bad angles. I have confidence in both of these guys however. With so many good corners and our improved pass rush, they have the potential to rise from good to very good, or even great.

rollo lawson

August 13th, 2012
1:26 pm

And versus New Orleans, I’d give the Saints an overdose of William Moore blitzing right up the middle between the guard and center.

Michael M.

August 13th, 2012
1:29 pm

I want to see Nolan give the Saints an overdose of everything this year on defense ha ! …………..

North FLA Falcon

August 13th, 2012
1:31 pm

DeCoud is pretty solid in coverage but often he reminds me of DeAngelo Hall … stop the hot dogging and do your job. Moore needs to stay injury free. He is a hard hitter. This year we face Brees twice, both Mannings, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo … so these guys need to step it up.

jay

August 13th, 2012
1:31 pm

Man Decoud is the master of getting burned. We can only hope Nolan knows how to put him in good positions to make plays.

SirReal

August 13th, 2012
1:32 pm

I think BVG’s schemes would give anyone mental errors. Who drops Abraham in to coverage? So glad that good ol boy is gone. I believe system change will make all the difference with these two. I just dont want DeCoud celebrating this year when he hasnt done anything or if we’re playing from behind. Stay focused and do your job. All the dancing and bows can be saved for the theatre not the gridiron. I’ve always liked Moore even at Mizzou. Hope he can get back to that form he had in 2010. I think we have two very solid safeties.

Jay

August 13th, 2012
1:44 pm

Saying the Falcons are “lucky” to have DeCoud is a JOKE.

DeCoud is the lucky one, that the Falcons drafted him as high as they did and are paying him as much as they are, when you consider how terrible he is against the deep ball! Saying “oh, well, we just needed three years of experience” is an EXCUSE.

Much to Prove

August 13th, 2012
1:46 pm

Falcons have a great deal to prove this year on both sides of the ball. Taking advantage of a rather weak division (Carolina and TB) has generated some playoff appearances but nothing to indicate they are ready to be playoff competitive. Our offense and defense are not designed to beat the best NFL teams and thus get embarrassed in these games. I’m not sure one season can turn everything around but hopefully will show steps towards eliminating ‘above average’ as a successful strategy.

Michael M.

August 13th, 2012
1:51 pm

The game Thursday night will be televised on Fox ” The Falcons’ second game will also be played at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. The game is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 16 at 8 p.m. and will be nationally televised on FOX. “

Left Coast Dawg

August 13th, 2012
2:00 pm

Yes, the Bengals game is a national broadcast on FOX this Thursday (8pm EST/ 5pm PST)

ParanoidAndroid

August 13th, 2012
2:12 pm

WillyMo is becoming one of my favorite guys on D. Hard hitter on the field, but humble off the field. I noticed during TC that he says “thank you” or “thank you ma’am” to every person he signs an autograph for. Gotta respect that.

Cejay

August 13th, 2012
2:23 pm

Lol, this Flacons blog needs to be voted as the number 1 palce for “all other teams to show up”. Its good they know who their competition is !!! I would not stupe as low to show up on another teams blog !!

SeenThis B4

August 13th, 2012
2:28 pm

Aah, that would be “Stoop”. Of course, some are just stuck on stupid.

Cejay

August 13th, 2012
2:28 pm

Thank you Seen….you ARE good for something !!!

SeenThis B4

August 13th, 2012
2:37 pm

Well, you have been such a congenial adversary, I just wanted to help.

Chesty LaRue

August 13th, 2012
2:38 pm

Cejay

August 13th, 2012
2:42 pm

Seen. Iwas just about to say you’re off my radar today and BOOM the one who I was looking for shows up !!!! Chesty, you do realize you are victim of you own criticisms….how that bait taste hahahaha welcome to the absurd !!!

Cejay

August 13th, 2012
2:45 pm

Anymore philosophies of humanity you want to include yourself in ???? lololol

Esquire

August 13th, 2012
3:03 pm

Can’t wait to see these guys get their picks…………especially in the NFC South!

Jimmy Crack

August 13th, 2012
3:21 pm

DeCoud should be nicknamed “Paparazzi” because all we ever see on TV is highlights of #28 following someone into the end zone.

Whadda Ya Know?

August 13th, 2012
3:28 pm

1. William Moore needs to get and stay healthy once and for all
2. Decoud needs to break his bad habit of peaking in the backfield and letting receivers get behind him
3. Both need to go back to consistently bringing the wood to our opponents. Decoud has been gun shy since he got a few concussions.
4. Roaming and ball-hawking should put them both in position to make big plays on the ball

JSS

August 13th, 2012
3:30 pm

Jimmy Crack, we never agree on much; but you got #28 pegged!!! Hakeem Nicks and Jimmy Graham second your comment too!!!

Cejay

August 13th, 2012
3:31 pm

@ Jimmy Crack, No you got it wrong, thats Dunta Robinson’s job !!

JSS

August 13th, 2012
4:14 pm

Robinson would have to play three more seasons to catch up with the Route Jumper!!!

ernisTbass

August 13th, 2012
4:21 pm

caption over the pic ” I thought you was covering”

JSS

August 13th, 2012
4:27 pm

At least Robinson was trying to get into the play… Where the heck was DeCoud going?
Chase Count
DeCoud – 3, Robinson – 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Lbqik9vM14&feature=re
Hit the mute button, song stinks

JSS

August 13th, 2012
4:28 pm

The Brick Thrower is on!

PMC

August 13th, 2012
4:45 pm

Wonder what he had to say to Hakeem Nicks when Nicks was strolling into the endzone in the playoff game.

Jamaaliver

August 13th, 2012
5:02 pm

Nice to see a Saints fan is also the #1 fan of the AJC and its Falcons coverage!!!

First on every Falcons blog…impressive.

JSS

August 13th, 2012
5:33 pm

“Dude, where’s my skateboard? Wait up, I can’t catch up!!!” “My Faux Hawk is getting my eyes”

JSS

August 13th, 2012
5:37 pm

“Go get him Biermann!”

SeenThisB4

August 13th, 2012
5:48 pm

@jamaaliver: it’s called falcan’t coverage.

Statues R' Us

August 13th, 2012
5:50 pm

a big season ahead

air of mendacity

August 13th, 2012
5:59 pm

DeCoud always seems to be around the ball but never makes the play – I don’t know if it is going for the interception (the big play) or what – but he needs to concentrate more on breaking the completion up and forget about the interception – even if it hits him in the hands, he tends to drop it. Maybe this year will be different. hope springs eternal.

hiramsaint

August 13th, 2012
6:03 pm

a big season meaning they will lead the league……………………………………in deep passes given up for td’s

Big Crimson 75

August 13th, 2012
6:33 pm

I’m looking for break-out Seasons from both!!
Moore needs to prove He can play 16 games — remember why he lasted to the 2nd round?
DeCoud is better than people give him credit for.
Both will benefit from Nolan. Big seasons from our safeties this year!!

Another Rick

August 13th, 2012
6:54 pm

Such haters in this room

JSS

August 13th, 2012
7:01 pm

DeCoud is as faux as his mohawk!

Falcon James

August 13th, 2012
7:35 pm

I certanly can’t see the defense being any worse than they were last year. When you are in the gutter, they is no place to look but up. My only concern with our defense at this stage is depth. If we loose 1 guy to injury and then loose another, we are deep trouble.

falCANS

August 13th, 2012
7:36 pm

Man yall trippin. Moore has rare “elite” talent and Decoud is a gamer. No longer will he bve expected to cover top WR 20 yards down field