Tom Moore never really retired as much as his body – specifically his knees – began to give out.
That’s why the offensive guru who guided Peyton Manning through Manning’s entire time in Indianapolis stepped away from coaching, not because he didn’t want to coach anymore. His knees were so bad they took away his energy, where a turn helping Manning once again helped his career.
Moore went to Duke University a year ago where Manning was holding his private workouts trying to return to the field after a year away. There, Duke coach David Cutcliffe saw Moore’s knee troubles, and insisted Moore get checked out at the Duke Medical Center. In April, Moore had one knee replaced, and then in August had the other replaced.
Moore, 74, was suddenly pain-free. His energy had returned. He didn’t have an NFL coaching position but he spent the final five weeks helping the Titans’ staff, more than anything to prove to himself he could still do the job.
Bruce Arians was more than happy to have him do that job with the Cardinals, where Moore has come to be the assistant head coach/offense and rehabilitate the franchise’s issues on that side of the ball.
“Don’t worry about my chronological age because I feel like I’m about 50,” Moore said Friday in his first chance to meet with the media.
“I still have a lot of coaching to do.”
That leaves a smile on Arians’ face. “No one can teach (offense) better than he can,” Arians said.
Moore has spent 35 years in the NFL, winning a couple of Super Bowls with the Steelers in the Chuck Noll years, and working with
Moore said Arians long ago convinced him that throwing deep is a good thing, but one tenet Moore will stick by as he comes in to work the with the Cardinals is that it isn’t about his “system.” The players are what make the system.
“Football is a game of people,” Moore said. “There are lots of systems. One of the things you want to make sure you do, and it’s what we are doing, you don’t come in with preconceived ideas. You don’t say, ‘I’m Tom Moore and this is what we’re going to do.’ It doesn’t work that way.
“You do what your players can do. Find out what they are best at, find out their strengths and take advantage of those strengths.”
And while there might not be, for instance, a Manning available at quarterback, “everybody has strengths,” Moore emphasized.
Arians said Moore, along with quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens and himself, will collaborate to find the right fit as starting quarterback. Game-planning will also be a collaborative effort, Arians said, overseen by Arians and Moore.
Manning may be Moore’s most famous pupil, but it wasn’t the quarterback Moore brought up first when talking about how to create an effective aerial attack.
“Everything in the passing game starts with protection,” Moore said. “There are millions of pass patterns. But the single biggest thing you have to work on and get established each week is your pass protections. You have to get that ironed out.”
When it was suggested the offensive line for the Cardinals had major problems last season, Moore was blunt.
“That’s history,” he said. “I don’t deal in the past.”
The future includes more coaching, which is all Moore ever wanted. He talked about coaching being a privilege in the NFL, and thanked Arians multiple times for bringing him aboard. He said Arians was a winner and “I want to be with a winner.”
“As soon as Bruce called me, I told my wife,” Moore said, “ ‘Honey, we just hit the lotto.’ ”