At no point last season were more eyes on the Denver Broncos than when they faced off with the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL playoffs. Unfortunately that means that the country was watching as the secondary infamously let Jacoby Jones get behind them for a miracle touchdown to tie the game. The Ravens, of course, eventually won in overtime.
That becomes the lasting image of Rahim Moore for most fans, certainly those outside of Denver. Moore backpedaled, panicked, jumped too soon, and fell on his hindquarters as Jones galloped into the end zone. In the weeks and months that would follow, people bellowed again and again about Moore‘s terrible play, shouting about how “that can’t happen in that situation.” Really, the perception of that play then leaked into the off-season and made the secondary a perceived area of need for the Broncos.
Why recap those events? To point out the unfairness of that perception of Moore, who is actually a really steady safety. ProFootballFocus gives each player a grade each week from -2.0 to 2.0, with anything beyond that range considered to be exceptional in either direction. In 2012 Moore played all 16 games and only graded out in the negatives five times, and only below -1.0 once (in the divisional playoffs, of course). This season has been no different: in ten starts he has only graded in the negative three times, with one being the fateful match-up with the Dallas Cowboys and the other being this past week’s game which he left with a frightening injury.
With 38 tackles, six passes defended, and two interceptions through 10 games, Moore was well on his way to a career-best season in 2013. That’s what made his mysterious and eventually frightening injury (compartment syndrome) all the more disappointing for the man.
As for the Broncos, who placed Moore on IR with designation to return, they are now faced with the unfortunate prospect of replacing the steadier of their two starting safeties. We might not appreciate until now how well Moore complements the raw and sometimes undisciplined play of Duke Ihenacho. Thankfully the Broncos have veteran Mike Adams to fill in. They also signed Michael Huff for depth, but based on the direction his career has been headed, they should hope they never need to count on him.
With Adams the Broncos might be OK, but the fact is, they now face a pivotal stretch of their season without one of their best defenders in the lineup.