Heading into Week 9 on the road, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a must-win situation if they want to save their dwindling hopes at securing more than a losing season.
At 2-5, hopes were the team would be one game on either side of .500 at this point in the year, but hopes haven’t turned into reality as the Bucs enter this weekend’s match-up in Seattle on a three game skid.
Seattle enters the game at 6-2 with one of the led MVP candidates in quarterback Russell Wilson. The deck is stacked against Tampa Bay to avoid their fourth loss in a row, and one lesser known player who will be looking to impact the game’s outcome is third-year wide receiver, David Moore.
DAVID MOORE’S HISTORY
Moore spent four years at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma before entering the NFL as a seventh-round draft pick in 2017.
He set single-season and career marks for the Tigers while becoming the first receiver in school history to notch 1,000-yards in a single season.
The wide receiver wasn’t the only seventh-round selection for the Seahawks in 2017 to make the roster however, as running back Chris Carson was also selected 23 picks later as the 249th selection of that year’s class.
Another player taken in 2017 by Seattle was wide receiver Amara Darboh who the team took with their fourth third-round pick that year. Darboh now resides with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of course.
Moore not only made the roster as a seventh-round draft pick in his rookie season, he’s stuck around too.
In three years, Moore has 34 receptions for 566-yards and six touchdowns.
DAVID MOORE’S 2019
After being forced to move on from star wide receiver Doug Baldwin, the Seahawks turned to Moore to help the offense make up for the blow his absence dealt.
Along with rookie D.K. Metcalf and veteran Tyler Lockett, Moore and the Seahawks receiver group have helped Wilson put together a strong season and put their team in heavy contention for the NFC West divisional title.
Wilson currently sits tenth in the league in passing yards (2,127) and leads the league in touchdown passes (17) while having just one interception. Wilson’s 115.5 quarterback rating is also tops in the league among quarterbacks with at least 200 pass attempts in 2019.
Moore’s contribution to Wilson’s impressive season thus far is eight catches for 121-yards and one touchdown, but recent trends point to an increased role for Moore as the season continues to develop.
After suffering a broken humerus in August, Moore wasn’t able to play a regular season game in 2019 until Week 3 against the New Orleans Saints. As he was preparing to return, Wilson was quoted as saying,
“He’s been working his tail off to get back. He was a big-time player for us last year....We’re excited about getting him back on the field. I know he’s fired up about that.”
Since getting back on the field, things have been progressing slowly for the receiver, as he received just two targets in each of his first three outings, brining in one reception in each of those games.
In his last three however, Moore has gotten nearly twice the amount of targets as he was getting early on, and even received a carry against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8. Signs the receiver is getting back up to speed, and the Seahawks offense is looking to get him involved like he was last year scoring touchdowns in three team wins and two scores in a two-point loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
He’s not the primary target of course, and with the addition of Josh Gordon this weekend, his opportunities may begin to shrink depending on how quickly ‘Flash’ gets up to speed.
Still, in a league where slot defenders are considered almost as valuable as perimeter corners, a team’s third receiver is someone the defense should always be aware of and Moore is no different.
o Size and Speed
Moore isn’t a blazer, but he’s no slouch in the speed department either. And listed at six-feet tall and 215-pounds, he’s got the size needed to win against smaller or equal sized defenders as well.
Jamming him on the line is a defender’s best bet at disrupting the timing between he and Wilson, but if the jam misses, then the defender will have a significantly difficult time trying to make up for lost ground.
We’ve heard it before, that a player is as good as they are because of the scheme they play in. Almost like it’s an insult or shortcoming of the player.
But whatever the reason, the Seahawks know how to get Moore good opportunities to impact the game, and it’s how they scheme against opposing defenses that help out quite a bit.
On multiple occasions, Seattle will start with Moore lined up as a slot receiver with an out-breaking route (think out route or corner) with the perimeter receiver (Metcalf or Lockett) running an in-breaking route.
As many defenses will do, the secondary will most commonly follow the speedier Lockett or much more physically imposing Metcalf. When they do, it leaves Moore with a one-on-one opportunity and usually room to work in the outside quarter of the field.
If a defender like Sean Murphy-Bunting of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers allows Moore to push him further to the inside part of the field with his release and stem, then the break is far more likely to produce key separation which Wilson is supremely adept at finding when available.
o Body Control
Now, I don’t know if the acquisition of Gordon is a sign the Seahawks no longer have high hopes for their third receiver, but it can’t be ignored how inconsistent Moore can be when the ball arrives.
On back-to-back plays against Atlanta, the Seahawks called plays which basically demonstrate exactly what I described above in the ‘scheme’ portion of Moore’s strengths.
Both passes came with the Seahawks just inside the Atlanta 25-yard line. Now on the first, the ball was slightly underthrown. However, if Moore was in better control of his body, he could have made an attempt to come back to the ball rather than drifting further into the end zone, giving his defender an opportunity to break up the pass.
The next throw came on an out, and was towards the sideline. Again, not placing all the blame on Moore, the ball could have been thrown better but it wasn’t a bad ball either. Instead of planting his feet and extending for the pass, Moore chose to jump in the air resulting in his being pushed out of bounds before getting both feet down to make the catch.
As a result, the Seahawks were forced to settle for a field goal. For Buccaneers defenders, it will be important not to lose early in routes against Moore, and to make each catch difficult by condensing the space he has to execute the play. If they can, then this is a receiver who has shown the ability to let contact as the ball arrives to impact the outcome of the play.
Like many offenses today, the Seahawks passing attack has two primary receivers and like to get their tight end involved when possible. When all three of those players get going early, it forces opposing defenses to make concessions in coverage elsewhere to stop the main methods of attack.
This is where players like Moore come into play, and against aggressive defenses who like to use press-man coverage and young defensive backs in zone, he could turn his four or five targets into big catches and scores if the defense isn't prepared for what he brings to the field on Sunday.