ASHBURN, Va. -- The reason they drafted him is also why he stood out at times on Sunday.
Morgan Moses is a big man and, when that’s used to his advantage, he can be a good player. The trick is using that size every down; for now, there are times he’ll lapse into habits (bending at the waist; being occasionally too upright) that could -- and will -- get him in trouble.
But he’s also more consistent than in training camp, and he showed Sunday in relief of Trent Williams how far he’d come. Moses, a third-round pick, is expected to start if Williams can’t play at San Francisco.
But the length -- he’s 6-foot-6 -- definitely helps him when he combines it with good footwork,. If he bends at the waist, it negates his ability to use his feet. When he bends at the knees, it made a big difference. Several times against Tampa Bay, he stopped defensive end Michael Johnson because of that length. On one second quarter play, Moses appeared beaten when Johnson took him upfield and cut back inside. But Moses’ long arms and frame helped him recover.
“It’s very forgiving,” Redskins offensive line coach Chris Foerster said, “if you move your feet with it. The length gives him a chance for his feet to catch up. We’re talking about that much length [six inches] but on film it looks like this [a foot].”
Moses said, “In college you get away with a lot of things because of size and physical stature that you can’t get away with in the NFL. So getting multiple reps in season has helped me work on those things. And then going against guys like [Trent] Murphy and Brian Orakpo and [Ryan] Kerrigan every day, those guys go hard and at full speed. It can only help you get better.”
Yes, it helps even when he takes a bad angle. On a zone read run in the second half, Moses went too far inside the linebacker. But the linebacker had to still go around him and that took him off his path; he wasn’t a factor on the play.
“He’s having trouble with some zone read stuff where he’s not sure where to go,” Foerster said. “He’s done it a lot, but in a game it happens like that and he’s like, ‘Whoa, I have to get there.’ And then he’s reaching for him. It’s not a surprise. He knows what to do, and he does it not as consistently as you’d like in practice. That’s why he hasn’t been on the field.”
The trick for Moses is not bending too much at the waist but also not playing upright. He provided examples of both; if it happens against a rusher such as Aldon Smith, there could be problems. On one play vs. Tampa Bay, the linebacker got his hands into Moses’ chest fast and controlled him, working back inside for a pressure. Later on that fourth-quarter series, Moses was a little too upright off the snap and allowed the end to get around him. He looked slower because he wasn’t able to bend as well. Against Smith, he'll often operate out of a silent count which could lead to Moses being late off the snap.
“I remember Trent [Williams] out here against Rak all the time as a rookie, and he’d be like, ‘Oh, man I’m ready to go,’ “ Foerster said. “And his first game live bullets came, and it’s DeMarcus Ware and he’s like, ‘This is a different deal.’ The speed is different, it’s loud. That’s what happens.”
But that leads to another part that pleased Foerster. In the summer, he raved about Moses’ ability to quickly learn and put into practice what he had been told that day. It transferred to the field. There was a time he failed to block the right guy on an outside zone that led to issues. Earlier this year, he failed to react to a rush.
Still, Foerster said, “Sometimes guys come to the sidelines, and we talk through plays and this is what I saw and this is what the pictures say. And he was really on point. He had a good feel for what was going on. It wasn’t too big for him. He did a really good job."