The Bills went out and signed another cornerback on Tuesday. Sterling Moore signed a one year deal to come play in Buffalo in 2016. The 26 year old defensive back is listed at 5’10, 205 pounds and he started 9 games last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. According to Pro Football Focus, Moore was rated as the 64th best corner overall with a 67 rating (Gilmore 84.6/Darby 87.1/Robey 45.8), a 64 in pass coverage (Gilmore 82.8/Darby 86/Robey 44.9) and 79 in run defense (Gilmore 79.5/Darby 78.5/Robey 46.5).
From watching him in Tampa’s defense he seems more comfortable in off zone coverage. He isn’t the fastest corner, so he relies on his ability to read the quarterback and route combinations in front of him. Take a look at his coverage numbers courtesy of Pro Football Focus (PFF).
In 2015, Moore played in 383 pass coverage snaps and was targeted 74 times. He allowed 49 receptions for 563 yards. His best game according to PFF was against the New York Giants. In that game, Moore was tasked with covering Odell Beckham Jr. for most of the game.
Moore #26, makes a play on the ball to the bottom of the screen. He is very good at using a bail technique paired with the “Saban shuffle” then driving on the ball. The “Saban shuffle” is a technique that is often used by secondary coaches. Instead of a back pedaling they will slide to their depth then drive on the ball. This is commonly utilized with guys who aren’t the smoothest in their backpedal and who may have trouble driving and accelerating on the ball. Moore seemed to thrive using this technique.
When Moore was the primary man on Beckham, he was targeted 7 times. Odell caught four passes for 46 yards. Moore and Odell are to the bottom of the screen. Moore drives and does a great job of making a play on the ball, but Beckham hauls it in.
Moore intercepted one ball in the game versus the Giants. Moore is in zone coverage to the bottom of the screen. Beckham beats him to the post but the throw is behind Odell and Moore picks it off.
Moore has a knack for making a play on the ball at the catch point.
He also pitched in 3 tackles and one stop in this game. Here he gets beat by Odell, but he doesn’t give up on the play. He chases him down and forces a fumble.
Check out Corey White, Sterling Moore and Nickell Robey’s coverage stats from 2015. I added Corey White’s last full season from 2014.
Moore’s worst game in 2015, was against the Colts. Moore and the safeties seemed to have trouble with the deep passes in this game. He matched up against Hilton several times. Hilton was thrown at 4 times and caught 3 passes for 54 yards and 1 TD. Moore ends up stripping Hilton at the end of the play but it rolls out of bounds.
Moore to the bottom of the screen peaks into the backfield, that allows Hilton to get down field and work his way back outside for the TD.
Moore had trouble covering Donte Montcrief as well, he was thrown at 2 times, allowed 2 receptions for 47 yards. Here Moore is in man coverage versus the wheel route. Not that bad of coverage or play on the ball, but Hasselback fits it in there.
Moore gets burned in cover 2 zone to the bottom of the screen. He doesn’t get a piece of the WR, making it difficult on the safety. Moore looked more comfortable in cover 3, specifically cover 3 pattern reading techniques. Instead of having Moore just drop to a landmark in a zone, he was often asked to play more of a match-up zone. Something that Rex loves to employ.
The Bills have two starting corners in Ronald Darby and Stephon Gilmore, but it seems like they want to upgrade the depth and versatility at the position. The Bills face a very diverse set of receivers just within the AFC east. They face big WRs like Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker or even tight ends like Gronk or Bennett. But they also have to match-up against small shifty receivers like Jarvis Landry, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. The contrasting receiving styles just in their division makes it very difficult to find defenders who can play both types equally. Sterling Moore is someone who has a knack for making plays on the ball and contesting throws will be used quite frequently versus those bigger receivers. Corey White is a corner who has the foot-speed to stay with the shifty receivers which will allow Rex Ryan and company to call more diverse coverages, or even match-up easier. It’ll allow Rex to match-up easier and call more coverages from play to play, or game-plan to game-plan.
There is no doubt that Moore was brought in to battle for the nickel corner position, but in my opinion that position doesn’t suit him full time. In 2015, Moore was only used in the slot 70 times. Over the course of his whole career he has only been used in the slot 228 times, he was targeted 53 times, allowed 35 catches for 462 yards. What was impressive, was that according to PFF he has never let a touchdown from the slot position and he managed to pick one ball off.
I think he was signed to be used in if Darby or Gilmore goes down and for certain match-ups. Moore isn’t known as being a man, cover corner. He had trouble with receivers with straight line speed and or quickness such as Hilton, Montcrief,and Huff. When you watch his film from 2015, he was in zone a lot. The Bucs did a phenomenal job of using certain techniques to maximize his value as a starting corner. Rex Ryan will have to do the same. I expect Rex to continue to employ his pattern reading-zone techniques in 2016, which will play to Moore’s strengths. Moore and White are playing for their next contract. I can’t wait to see how the battle for playing time shakes out in camp!