If 2nd-year safety becomes the takeaway artist he was in college, look out
If his rookie year taught us anything, it’s the fact Tre’Von Moehrig has mainstay written all over him on the Las Vegas Raiders defense. Missing only six of the Silver & Black’s total defensive snaps in 2021, the second-round pick (43rd overall) out of TCU played in and started all 17 games of his rookie campaign.
Yet, there isn’t an ounce of complacency in Moehrig. None of that “I’ve arrived” mentality.
“I’m just hungry to, like you say, get better, start this season, and just continue to grow with the team, continue to practice at a high level,” Moehrig said during his post mandatory camp press conference last week when asked if he’s still basking in his tremendous rookie year.
That’s the perfect attitude and mentality the Raiders need heading into a proving grounds-type season with new head coach Josh McDaniels and his coaching staff. It’s the same approach talented nickel/slot cornerback Nate Hobbs – drafted three rounds after Moehrig – is taking into Year 2. And just like Hobbs, Moehrig assertive himself as the starting free safety and didn’t look back in his debut season.
Racking up 55 total tackles, one interception and six passes defensed, the 6-foot-2, 202-pound 23-year-old provided the Raiders with a reliable deep defender, who could roam sideline to sideline, and was willing to mix it up and tackle. Moehrig playing 1,152 total snaps (just six shy of the team’s total defensive snaps) was a testament to not only trust he earned from the team, but productivity.
According to Pro Football Reference, Moehrig was targeted 24 times allowing 14 receptions for 181 yards and two touchdowns. Of that yardage, 33 were yards after the catch, meaning Moehrig did a good job limiting damage after the reception while the other 148 were air yards (distance ball traveled from quarterback to target). Opposing quarterbacks sported a 58.3 completion percentage going Moehrig’s way and a 92.5 rating.
If Moehrig were to become the ball hawking takeaway artist he was at TCU, the Raiders would have themselves a must-account-for defensive back.
Moehrig did a lot of the little things right last season and is focused on continuing to do that in Year 2.
“I’d probably just go back to that accountability part,” Moehrig said of the biggest lesson he learned his rookie season. “Just trying to stay on track with the small things because the small things turn into big things, like I said, and everybody can pay attention to that. The coaches pay attention that, your peers pay attention to that. So, just like I said, showing up on time, taking the notes, doing extra, lifting the weights.”
New staff or scheme isn’t going to knock Moehrig off his trajectory.
“It actually kind of feels the same, just new faces and new coaches,” Moehrig said during his post mandatory camp session press conference last week. “For me, the approach is the same. Just come in every day and work hard and do what the coaches ask me to do. So, it’s kind of the same feeling, kind of same approach.”
Moehrig is a coach’s dream player. Not only is he athletically and physically gifted, but the safety is also dedicated to the craft and is a sponge when it comes to learning. And perhaps more importantly to retaining the teachings, Moehrig goes out on the field and showcases what he’s learned. And he’s got plenty of study ahead of him as the Raiders go from Gus Bradley’s defensive scheme to Patrick Graham’s system. Moehrig’s schematic fit may call for him to do things differently or do things he didn’t do last season. The safety is game for it all, harkening back to a coach’s dream player.
“Coach Graham, I love him. He has good energy,” Moehrig said of the Raiders new defensive boss. “He always says, we’re coworkers. That’s what I love about it, it’s always open conversation, honest critique. And that’s just the one thing I love about him. I’m looking forward to continuing the season and growing with him too.”
“There is some different concepts, but at the end of the day, like I said, it’s whatever the coaches ask us to play or whatever scheme. So, that’s kind of what we’re all doing,” Moehrig added. “I’m going to keep it plain and simple. Whatever the coaches ask me to do, that’s what I’m going to do. That’s kind of how I feel and my mindset so.”
Part of improving and avoiding a sophomore slump is doing some self-reflection and leaning on teammates and veterans for guidance and counsel. Moehrig did plenty of both and continues to do so. He admits his game had flaws last season – namely the inability to come down with passes that should’ve been interceptions. Then there’s the eye sore of whiffs and missed tackles, a no-no for a safety considered the last line of defense. While Moehrig did show he can form tackle with the best of them, PFR charted him with nine missed tackles, a 14.1 percent missed tackle rate.
“Just footwork, really,” Moehrig began on what he wants to get better at this offseason. “Just improving my footwork, improving my hands and then just conditioning. Just trying to stay on top of my conditioning peak as I can and then just come in every day, lift weights, try to get stronger. And then just the mental side of it, just trying to learn the game.”
Moehrig noted his tag team partner at strong safety, Johnathan Abram, is just as hungry and eager to prove his worth this season under the new coaching staff and has leaned on the hard-hitting veteran. The trio of Moehrig, Abram and Hobbs already have chemistry and are impart that on others.
“Like you said, I mean, those guys have been with me since I came in here. So, to do this with them is fun,” Moehrig said of Hobbs and Abram. “We kind of already know each other, know everybody’s kind of skill set. So, to come in with those guys is fun to see us encouraging the new guys, encouraging the younger guys. We’re going to continue to do that.”
Moehrig added he quickly sought the advice of free agent addition Duron Harmon, a safety who can not only play both free and strong spots but has experience in Graham’s and the New England Patriots’ defense.
“Yeah, tremendously. Dude has a lot of knowledge,” Moehrig said of Harmon. “Like you said, he’s been in the game for a while, so as soon as he got here, I tried to start picking his brain. Everybody started trying to pick his brain and he’s been giving all the knowledge he can. He’s been trying to help us all on and off the field, not just with football, but with life, too. So, he’s been a great addition to the team.”