For most of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs have positioned themselves as Super Bowl
contenders. The offense grinds up opponents, scoring a league-leading 3.1 points per drive,
and quarterback Patrick Mahomes inserted himself in the MVP debate after becoming the
second player in NFL history with 50 touchdown passes and 5,000 passing yards in a single
season. Mahomes is the sixth player to pass for more than 5,000 yards in a season, joining
Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Dan Marino and Matthew Stafford.
The defense, on the other hand, hasn’t been near championship caliber. In the red zone the
Chiefs are allowing opponents to score a touchdown more than 72 percent of the…
A year ago, Andrew Luck was at home, struggling with an injured shoulder that cost him the
On Saturday he wrote the best chapter yet of his storybook comeback season, throwing for
222 yards and two touchdowns. The Colts raced to a three-touchdown lead and cruised to a
21-7 win over the Texans in the wild-card round of the AFC playoffs.
Luck put on a show in a stadium where he attended games throughout childhood and played in
them since high school, passing for 191 yards and two touchdowns before halftime to help
the Colts (11-6) build a 21-0 lead.
He denied feeling “at home” at NRG Stadium but admitted to having warm feelings for the
city where he grew…
INDIANAPOLIS — Those watching the Indianapolis Colts’ defense this season have seen a revitalized unit, filled with young playmakers ready to step up to the challenge.
Through three games the squad boasts the most tackles for a loss in the NFL (22), the fourth most sacks in the league (10) and have allowed the fourth-fewest pass plays of 20-plus yards among all 32 NFL teams.
Credit for the strong start needs to be spread across the entire defense, from new coordinator Matt Eberflus to rookie standout Darius Leonard, and no small acknowledgment needs to be given to second-year cornerback Kenny Moore II.
The 23-year-old has been as reliable as anyone in the defensive backfield, and didn’t wait long to show he belonged on the starting unit just moments into the season’s commencement.
As Colts fans packed Lucas Oil Stadium to see their new and improved team take on the Cincinnati Bengals to kick off the 2018 regular season, Moore II was planning his own stellar welcome back party.
Not even a drive into the game he would step in front of an Andy Dalton pass and came just steps away from walking into the end zone to score the first points of the Colts’ season.
Moore II hasn’t stopped there.
According to Pro Football Focus, Moore II allowed a 0.0 passer rating on passes thrown into his coverage in the opener against the Bengals, and his 43.8 opposing passer rating overall in three games so far this season ranks eighth among all NFL cornerbacks.
Moore II’s tight coverage has had a positive effect on the entire defense, too, as the defensive front has had more time to get to the quarterback.
“Kenny (Moore II) is just, he’s just so tough,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said of his defensive standout. “This guy is mentally tough. He just grinds it out. He takes every rep in practice, he just works hard.”
The Valdosta, Ga., native was late to the game in terms of getting his football career started and wound up only getting one season of high school football under his belt before making the jump to college football at Division II Valdosta State, an opportunity Moore II remains very thankful for.
“David Dean (then head coach at Valdosta State), who is now at West Georgia Southern, took a leap of faith on me and thought something of me when I was coming out of high school,” Moore II said. “We were both local and I was just so fortunate that he believed in me.”
Moore II took that belief and ran with it in his four years of college football, proving that his talent could outshine his experience — or lack thereof. He registered 11 interceptions in 46 career games, including grabbing five as a senior.
Even with a high level of production, teams still pointed to Moore II’s size at 5-foot-9 and a talent gap between the NFL and that of the Division II program that Moore II suited up for in college.
But while draft day came and went without Moore II hearing his name called, opportunity was not far around the corner.
Moore II was reached out to by one Bill Belichick, and got his first professional chance in the Northeast last summer in the New England Patriots’ training camp.
While things didn’t quite work out with the defending Super Bowl champions, it did land Moore II’s tape on the desk of Colts general manager Chris Ballard, and just as soon as New England released him during the final round of roster cuts, he would be claimed by the team he now leads.
Just another step in his journey.
“The transition from there (New England) to here was extremely fast and it was a learning point where I got to play on special teams all year and then got my chance on defense,” Moore II said. “I really tried to increase the trust they had in me within the system and within the organization. To be here from where I was a year ago, I knew it was in the cards, but I didn’t know I would be starting right now. I told myself just to continue to work hard, and leave it up to God and the people that run this organization.”
Like many times before, Moore II took an opportunity and capitalized on it.
Moore finished the 2016 season with the third highest playmaker index (19.4) among all rookie defensive backs, which is determined by the percentage of targets that resulted in a pass breakup or interception, according to PFF. The undrafted Moore II was only bested in the ranking by 2017 first-round picks Marshon Lattimore and Tre’Davious White.
The hard work is proving to pay off as a new regime of decision-makers took over this offseason and Moore II not only had the tape, but the intangibles to fit the build for a new defensive system.
“I really didn’t know much about him, I’ll be honest, when I first took the job,” Eberflus said of Moore II. “Then I started researching all the guys that were on the roster and once I saw that, I certainly liked his quickness and his ability to play inside or out. Going forward, what I now know about him personally as a man is that he is a fighter, a competitor and he is a guy that really shows what our system is about in terms of those types of things.”
Both Reich and Eberflus have referred to Moore II as a perfect fit for the system they are hoping to advance on defense, knowing they have a player that is ready for anything thrown in front of him.
“He represents everything we want in our team,” said Reich.
“He is a gritty, tough, scrappy corner and that’s exactly what we are looking for really in all of our defensive backs and our defensive players,” said Eberflus.
But even as the Colts’ defense continues to build on each success, Moore II is not dwelling on the positives or the negatives; he is focused on getting better.
“We are just doing what we are coached to do,” Moore II said. “There is no magician’s hat that we are looking through. We are going into each practice to build our confidence for Sundays.”
For most of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs have positioned themselves as Super Bowl contenders. The offense grinds up opponents, scoring a league-leading 3.1 points per drive, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes inserted himself in the MVP debate after becoming the second player in NFL history with 50 touchdown passes and 5,000 passing yards in a single season. Mahomes is the sixth player to pass for more than 5,000 yards in a season, joining Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Dan Marino and Matthew Stafford.
The defense, on the other hand, hasn’t been near championship caliber. In the red zone the Chiefs are allowing opponents to score a touchdown more than 72 percent of the…
The Indianapolis Colts secondary has been an area of weakness this season, particularly at cornerback. Nate Hairston and Quincy Wilson have struggled in their sophomore seasons. The team has rotated the bottom of the depth chart with guys such as Lenzy Pipkins, Arthur Maulet, and Chris Milton. Each of these players has done little this year as well.
The two standouts have been Pierre Desir— a player who has bounced around the league a few times— and Kenny Moore II. Moore’s development into the team’s top corner has been an interesting story to follow.
Moore had a very strong off-season that left an impression on the coaching staff, and that has clearly translated to the regular season. The former UDFA has tallied 33 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 4 pass deflections. Through just seven games, his numbers have all nearly exceeded his production in 2017.
We’ll take a look at Moore’s season to see what makes him the Indy’s top corner and see if the film supports his strong statistical production.
Colts corners must excel in zone coverage to fit in a Tampa 2 defense that is designed to prevent big plays. Moore has stood out in this area and has been rewarded with considerably playing time. He has lined up in zone coverage 52.6% of the time— according to the Quant Edge— showing that the coaches trust him in zone coverage.
In this first rep, Moore is lined up in the slot and jams the inside receiver before getting into his zone. He recognizes the running back coming out of the backfield and reads quarterback Andy Dalton’s body language. He accelerates to the running back and is able to make a big interception early in the game. While Moore got lucky the quarterback got hit on the play, it was a solid read and break on the ball to be in position for the interception.
In our next clip, Moore reads the quarterback’s body language to make an interception. He is again lined up in the slot before he drops into his zone. He quickly locks on to the quarterback’s eyes and shifts to the middle as the quarterback stares down his receiver. He accelerates to the ball when it is thrown for another impressive interception. The ability to read, react, and break on the ball is a big part of what makes Moore so good in zone coverage.
This next image shows my favorite play from Moore this season. He sits back in in zone and reads the tight end drag route, exploding downhill as soon as the quarterback throws the ball. A willingness to come downhill and separate ball from receiver is vital in zone coverage and Moore does that here, de-cleating the tight end and forcing the incomplete pass in the process. This mentality is quite rare for a corner of Moore’s size.
Moore has lined up most often in the slot. This isn’t because he is the best athlete or the best suited to cover slot receivers. Moore is the team’s slot corner because he is the best run defender of the Colts’ cornerback group. Yes, even at 5’9” 190 pounds. He is physical in his run fits and gets downfield in a hurry in pursuit.
In this clip, Moore diagnoses run early in the play and comes down from his slot position, into the backfield. Moore hits the running back and slows him in the hole. Anthony Walker is able to clean up the play for a minimal gain. The next rep is similar. Moore recognizes run immediately and is able to shoot the gap to make the play. He beats the block from slot receiver Jamison Crowder and trips up Adrian Peterson in the backfield.
Zone corners must be able to make tackles in space in one-on-one situations for the scheme to work. Moore is an excellent tackler, as he takes smart angles and has discipline in space.
In our first clip, the Redskins try some trickery on 3rd and short. They toss the ball to their elusive elusive scat Chris Thompson, who is particularly good at making plays like this in space. Unfortunately for Thompson, Moore recognizes the play immediately and tracks Thompson down by taking an excellent angle. Once he closes the gap, he is able to make the tackle in the backfield.
Our next clips shows another great angle by Moore. He is lined up as the outside corner. Running back LeSean McCoy bounces the ball outside to Moore’s side of the field. Moore quickly tracks McCoy and flies downhill to make the tackle.
Moore does need to work on breaking down when tackling but his aggression, discipline, and use of good pursuit angles makes his tackling a strength.
Analysts have commonly acknowledged that Colts’ cornerbacks struggle in man coverage. While that is the case for most corners — particularly in press man — Moore does perform fairly well in off man coverage. He is comfortable when he has the chance to sit back and read the receiver and is quick to react to the receiver’s route. He is not perfect, but he is a very passable in off man coverage.
An example of Moore’s ability in off man coverage is found in our first clip. Moore is tasked with covering receiver A.J. Green in the redzone. He quickly diagnose thats Green is coming across the formation. Knowing that he has safety help toward the back of the endzone, Moore takes inside position to make the throw harder for Dalton. He gets his hands up at the last second to knock the ball away, saving a potential touchdown.
In our next clip, Moore is in off man against the slot on a fly route. Moore provides a few yards of cushion at the snap and uses that additional time to maneuver himself into the right position when the ball is thrown. Despite the ball being overthrown, this is a nice play.
As with most Colts cornerbacks, Moore struggles in press man coverage. He is not comfortable jamming receivers at the line and is ineffective using his hands. He has a tendency to get impatient in press man coverage and that will lead him out of position. He is also simply not physical enough or fast enough to make up for any of his deficiencies. Good press man corners are typically either strong physically or have elite speed to be effective in this role.
This first clip shows some of Moore’s weaknesses. He does not get his hands up at the line, giving Paul Richardson a free release. This allow Richardson to easily sell his inside route and gain an early advantage. Without contact to slow his opponent down, Moore feels forced to bite on the inside release. Once Richardson has a step on Moore, he doesn’t have the speed to make up ground and gives up a big play.
The next clip is another example of a failure to engage his opponent at the line of scrimmage. Receiver Kelvin Benjamin is running a deep hook route to get a first down. Moore needs to disrupt the timing of the play. Even the worst of receivers in the NFL can get separation with a free release in press man coverage.
Moore’s second mistake is allowing so much space through the route. He needs to trust his safety help and know that his receiver isn’t a speed threat. This completion could have easily been prevented by Moore.
Our last clip show Moore (top of the screen) losing at the line of scrimmage. He simply cannot retreat off the line in press coverage. This may be a designed press bail play, to confuse the quarterback, but Moore gives way too much of a cushion. I’d like to see him play the route tighter against a slower receiver.
Moore has emerged as the Colts’ top cornerback in 2018. His value is aided by an ability to rotate from the slot to outside on any given play. This versatility and his leadership in the secondary is visible in his film.
Moore has developed into an excellent run defender and solid tackles, particularly from the slot. He has shown the ability to read quarterbacks, accelerate quickly to the ball, and the toughness to crash downfield to breakup intended receivers from an incoming pass. He has even shown the ability to play solid in off man coverage. There are traits that translate well to Matt Eberflus’ Tampa 2 scheme.
While he is limited in press man coverage and has some areas where he needs to improve, Moore looks like a player who will be a part of Chris Ballard’s longer-term plans moving forward. It would be wise for the Colts to add a couple of corners in the off-season, but Moore is making a strong case to be a long-term starter in the slot.