Steelers: Arthur Moats is ready to prove his worth
In the offseason, outside linebacker Arthur Moats turned down an offer to sign with the Atlanta Falcons. His versatility and solid play not only made him an attractive option for Atlanta but also for teams like the Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals.
Arthur Moats decided to stay in Pittsburgh.
Even before Jason Worilds retired from football and opened the door for Moats to fill the starting spot on the left side, the James Madison graduate had made up his mind that he wanted to stay with the Steelers. Pittsburgh rewarded that loyalty with a three-year 7.5 million dollar contract. By any stretch of the imagination, that’s a bargain.
Moats is well aware that the Steelers drafted Alvin “Bud” Dupree in the first round of the 2015 draft. He understands that he is grooming his possible replacement, but is in no hurry to just hand that position over to him. Dupree will have to challenge the competitive veteran, and Moats will have to earn the right to stay on the field. For all the appreciation and the anticipation the Steelers organization has shown towards him, it’s still a business.
Their anticipation is not unwarranted.
The son of an ex-marine turned high school math teacher, Moats was expected to give his best effort towards any endeavor. In 2009, as a senior in college, he turned that drive into winning the Buck Buchanan Award as the top FCS defensive player in the nation.
Moats went on to be drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL draft. The team was looking for an identity and Moats watched helplessly as they went through three changes in defensive coordinators during his tenure there.
Sep 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Arthur Moats (55) reacts during player introductions before playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field. The Buccaneers won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The college defensive end was initially moved to inside linebacker. A drought of talent on the defense, and a lack of any true pass rush, soon forced them to move him to the more comfortable outside linebacker position. Before his tenure with the Bills was over he would be moved again, occasionally being asked to play defensive end.
In Pittsburgh, Moats has found at least a modicum of stability. Even with the departure of Dick Lebeau, he understands that the defense will undergo only basic changes in scheme but not in philosophy. In his second season here, he understands that the Steelers franchise is, from top to bottom, a family.
He is also aware of the remarkable fact that they have had only three head coaches since 1969. It’s because of this stability, in literally all aspects of the organization, that Moats has decided that this is where he wants to be.
Arthur Moats brings talent and leadership in return.
In 2014, we were able to see glimpses of his ability. He is a force as a pass rusher and more than solid at run defense. He is about as fundamentally sound as a player can be. Don’t let one rough exhibition game fool you, in his four previous seasons he has missed only two tackles.
In limited duty, he finished the 2014 regular season with four sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and pressured the quarterback 22 times. To put that into perspective, Moats could be looking at over 12 sacks this year if he continues to play at the same level.
Perhaps what he brings to the locker room is just as important.
James Harrison may be the old man of the team but he tends to lead by example. Moats, on the other hand, is a mentor by nature. Even though Alvin Dupree was drafted to be an eventual starter, Moats has taken the rookie first round draft pick under his wing and works with him on fundamentals and technique.
While in Buffalo, Arthur Moats was named the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year during the 2013 season due to his extensive charitable work. He also received the Ed Block Courage Award for overcoming an injury and showing leadership both on and off the field.
These are not awards given to glorify what kind of player you are, but rather what kind of human being you choose to be. These are awards given to players that you want on your team.
As the season progresses, and most fans are focusing their attention on players with high profile names, remember to keep an eye on the underrated Arthur Moats. Not only does he give this team a great opportunity to allow their young linebackers to learn under his tutelage, but in the interim he will almost definitely surprise the majority of fans with a solid season.
Be assured, Arthur Moats is ready to prove his worth. When you are crossing off players that might disappoint…don’t cross the Moats.
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