Based off the Washington Football Team's 2019 statistics, Jimmy Moreland played like a rookie reserve still finding his way in the NFL. A seventh-round pick, Moreland dazzled during offseason workouts and stood out in the preseason, only to fade into the background once the regular season began. In 14 games (five starts), Moreland defended four passes and totaled 32 tackles. He did not record an interception.
But upon reviewing last year's game film, Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins saw Moreland as an athletic, instinctual playmaker who did not fully trust himself. He believes Moreland should have had seven interceptions, a couple of which he could have returned for touchdowns.
"Wow, he is going to be special," Collins thought to himself.
In Collins' mind, it is just a matter of Moreland replacing that hesitation with aggressiveness. He thinks the transition should come more naturally with a year of experience under his belt.
"He has the confidence now and the trust that he knows we trust him in his ability to do something, have his back and cover him," Collins said of Moreland. "That's how it is as a rookie. I saw things and didn't do it because I was scared that a veteran was going to be mad at me. It's all praise. We all try and make plays. I feel that way about Jimmy."
Moreland appreciated Collins' kind words -- "it makes me feel that another dude sees my work" -- while admitting there were plays he did not capitalize on during his professional debut. He added that 2020 will be a big year for him, and he's looking forward to proving himself to the rest of his teammates and the new coaching staff.
"It was a long year coming from college to pro training and then going to the NFL league season," Moreland said in June. "It was most definitely different. I just got better over time."
The speed of the game was an adjustment for Moreland, who starred at FCS powerhouse James Madison. NFL routes develop quicker and are more complex, Moreland said, requiring greater field awareness and in-depth knowledge of the defensive scheme.
Moreland has yet to work with defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio or defensive backs coach Chris Harris in person, but they delved into nearly every aspect of the new system during the team's virtual offseason program. He thinks the defense is looking "quite good" and cannot wait to see how it operates under Del Rio and head coach Ron Rivera once practices begin.
"I feel like those two are good, quality guys; good, strong guys," Moreland said. "They're going to bring the pain. They seem like they're trying to bring a new culture, and I'm willing to do whatever works best for us."
Physically, Moreland is back to full health after a late-season foot injury landed him on Injured Reserve. He's training and running around without limitations, and he has even gained a few pounds from last season's playing weight, which was a little under 180.
Most of all, though, Moreland cannot wait for football. Nearly every answer during his interview referenced getting back on the field, and almost everything he has done in quarantine -- aside from playing the "NBA 2K" video game with defensive tackle Tim Settle -- has been geared towards that.
By studying the playbook and watching last year's film, Moreland is looking for any and every advantage to take into his second season.
"It's going to be the same Jimmy," Moreland said. "Coming out with a lot of confidence and being very eager to play. I'm ready to get back to it."