The film doesn't lie.
As Atlanta Falcons strong safety William Moore sifted through various plays from last season, one in particular was indicative of how not to approach tackling.
"The Tampa Bay game here, I overran the ball, but [Paul] Worrilow caused the fumble and he saved me," Moore said. "I had the proper angle to make the tackle, but I overran it because I was going for the kill shot, and (Bucs running back Bobby Rainey) cut back at the last minute. I didn't break down where I should have just broken down and made the tackle. But I was thinking 'kill' the whole time.
"I've just got to pick my poison and settle down."
New Falcons coach Dan Quinn, with his fast-and-physical motto, appreciates Moore's aggression. At the same time, Quinn made it a point to emphasize to Moore how he needs to alter his tackling approach to thrive on defense. Not to mention Moore has been fined at least $97,000 for illegal hits over the previous two seasons and even received a warning letter from the NFL for his sometimes reckless play.
Rather than take Quinn's words as an insult, the seventh-year veteran and one-time Pro Bowler Moore gladly accepted the challenge.
"I'm a rookie now. That's my mindset," Moore said. "I've got a new playbook, new coach. My expectations for myself, I haven't reached that yet. I could be so much better than what I am. When Coach Quinn said, 'We're going to work on your tackling,' I came back and said, 'What do you mean by that, coach?' I wanted to get specific. And he told me, 'Pick your battles, and know when to make the proper tackle and know when you've got the kill shot.'
"Since I've been here, I've watched the plays that I've missed. I don't want to go see interceptions because I already know how those ended. I like to watch miss tackles and missed opportunities because that's the only way I can get better."
Missed tackles and missed opportunities were part of the reason the Falcons struggled miserably on defense the last two seasons. Last year, when the Falcons surrendered a league-high 398.3 yards per game, they gave up 82.9 yards after contact, which ranked 22th in the NFL. The league's best was the Quinn-coached Seattle Seahawks defense at 57.25 yards allowed after contact per game.
This season, Moore will play more of the in-the-box safety he's best suited for, so he has to be a sure-tackler. He dropped weight this offseason to better prepare himself. But the emphasis on tackling doesn't mean Moore needs a beginner's course on wrapping up and securing the tackle or needs to constantly practice a Rugby-style technique, as Quinn has used as a teaching tool in the past.
"It's not about whether I can tackle; it's about knowing when to form tackle and when to blow somebody up," Moore said. "I know that. But when you go into the game, your adrenaline is pumping and your mindset is to destroy. Sometimes you get caught in the moment of thinking you can run straight through the guy and you need to settle down, gather, and make the proper tackle. It's not tackling. It's picking when to make the proper tackle."
Moore has no reservations about tackling despite coming off major right shoulder surgery. He missed nine games last season and was sidelined a majority of the offseason. Practicing in the pads Sunday and Monday gave him his first true opportunity to test the surgically repaired shoulder.
"I'm absolutely not worried about hitting on that shoulder," Moore said. "Time off heals a lot. I'm comfortable. I feel awesome. I was cleared before training camp to use my shoulder. If felt awesome to put the pads on. I want to go out there and thud a little more. Anybody that wants to come see me, they can come see me."
Quinn gave a quick assessment of Moore's play in camp.
"He didn't look inhibited in any way," Quinn said. "Certainly the speed, and he is lighter in weight by design. He has really come in with clear mind. There were really some plays that showed up to me, and I pointed and said, 'That's the style I'm looking for.'"