One thing was abundantly clear in the Green Bay Packers’ yearly drubbing of the Minnesota Vikings: The special teams performance was not at the front of the collective consciousness.
If done right, nobody should spend a lot of time thinking about special teams. Just like a car without a check engine light on, or the belt holding up your pants at work, you are not spending any mental effort worrying about them if they are working correctly. Alas, that has not been the case for the Packers this season.
Green Bay’s performances this season have consistently been marred by a lack of execution by special teams. Mason Crosby had his annual meltdown, the kickoff and punt coverage has been lackluster, and the entire team seems to be unable to catch a punt in a way that doesn’t curl your toes. Amari Rodgers has been disappointing.
After the latest special teams meltdown, Matt LaFleur said that it would be “all hands on deck.” That didn’t work in a game that saw Aaron Jones returning a kickoff. It also set the stage for an unmitigated disaster if it had gone poorly. Mo Drayton, the special teams coach who is somehow not in danger of losing his job, had to figure something out quickly.
When the Packers took the field against the Vikings on Sunday night, they had a new guy out there returning kicks. Some dude wearing the No. 82 was standing back there. Lo and behold, he let the first kickoff sail over his for a touchback. Safe.
A dramatic improvement. Green Bay got their guy.
David Moore is his name. It is his fifth year in the league. In 2017, the Seattle Seahawks drafted Moore in the seventh round, and he has bounced around different practice squads this offseason.
No, he will not have a Rasul Douglas-like impact, but Brian Gutekunst is a master of bettering the team on the margins. If Moore can provide some stability to the difficult ask of catching kickoffs and punts, he will have a valuable role on this team. It is a tall order, but last week’s game showed that the gig is his to lose.
Moore was on the field for eight snaps, each one as transcendent as the last. In the clip above, he snags the punt return, makes one simple cut, and jets up the field for 21 yards and what felt like the best punt return of the year for Green Bay.
Actually, according to this guy, the 21-yard return was. By a fairly historical margin, as well.
Moore also has chops as a receiver. He was a valued depth player in Seattle who showcased the ability to get open downfield. Immediate impact has a long shelf life for reserve players in the NFL, and it looks like Moore has shown that he will be able to provide a spark wherever he lines up.
Is Moore’s impact a product of just doing the bare minimum? Perhaps. This year, Green Bay’s special teams have been as bad as everyone has been saying they are. Being able to find a guy who can make the expected play is a boon for a unit that hasn’t otherwise been able to get it together no matter what they tried.
It may be a bit outlandish to spend a ton of energy arguing for yet another practice squad guy to make the final 53, especially heading into the playoffs. But if he can perform consistently, Moore has a spot on this team. If he is still around for the game against the Detroit Lions this weekend, it should be his final audition to prove that he is a key contributor to special teams.
The only things standing in his way are players returning to the active roster from the health and safety protocols. Gutekunst will have to look deep inside his soul and make a decision that has the team’s best interests in mind. Small sample size be damned, Moore showed on Sunday that he should be the guy returning kicks until further notice.