Linebacker Dontay Moch should think carefully about how to celebrate his birthday


Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Dontay Moch turns 26 years old today.

Moch better not spend his day partying. Rather Moch should be digesting the Cincinnati playbook for the second (and possibly his last) time.

Early Roots

Moch played football at Hamilton High School in his hometown of Chandler, Arizona. There, Moch starred on the defensive side of the ball, leading his team to two state titles his junior and senior years. Moch was named a First-team All-State player, and also won the state title in the 100-meter dash.

Drawing Interest From the NFL

Nevada won the recruiting battle for the linebacker.

Moch redshirted in 2006. During the 2007 season, Moch finished with decent totals of 13 games played, 13 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and three passes deflected.

Moch’s turning point took place when Nevada hired defensive coordinator Nigel Burton in 2008. Burton transitioned the Wolf pack into the 4-3 defensive scheme. Moch thrived finishing with 50 tackles, 17.5 of them for loss, 11.5 sacks, two passes deflected and four forced fumbles. Moch’s season earned him a Second-team All-WAC honor.

Moch’s junior season is when he really started to excel. Moch played in 13 games. Moch totaled 61 tackles, 20 of them for loss, 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and three passes deflected. Moch was named the WAC Defensive Player of the Year.

After deciding to return for his senior season, Moch played in 14 games. Finished with 43 tackles, 22 of them for loss, 8.5 sacks, two passes deflected and two forced fumbles.

Moch owns the records for most forced fumbles in the WAC (9) and the most tackles for loss in the WAC (62). Moch is second in the WAC for career sacks (30).

Moch escalated his draft stock after a stunning NFL Combine performance. Moch ran the 40-yard dash faster in 4.44 seconds! Faster than any other linebacker or defensive lineman.

Playing in the Lack of Spotlight

The Cincinnati Bengals decided to draft Moch with the 66th pick of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Moch broke his foot during the first preseason game of 2011. He was out rehabbing his injury for two months. Moch never regained a starting position that year with the Bengals and failed to see any playing time his rookie year.

The following year, Moch was suspended for first four games of the 2012 season for using a banned substance.

Moch saw the field in just one game against division rival the Cleveland Browns. Moch failed to establish himself on the field, dropping himself back in the depth chart after the game. Nov. 1, Moch was placed on the Injured Reserve list for recurring migraines. And just like that, his 2012 season was over.

After reportedly trying to find suitors to trade Moch to, the Bengals ended up cutting him.

Moch signed with the Arizona Cardinals Sept. 25, 2013. Moch saw the field during four games with Arizona. He piled up three tackles, including one sack. However, his contribution was not enough to impress the brass of the Cardinals, and he was waived March 13, 2014.

A Second Chance in Cincy

The Bengals took another chance on Moch the next day, claiming him off waivers. This time, Moch will have to stay healthy in the preseason and stay away from banned substances if he wants any chance of playing with Cincinnati this fall.

Moch is currently listed as the fourth weak side linebacker on the Bengals depth chart behind Vontaze Burfict, Sean Porter and Emmanuel Lamur.

Moch may have found collegiate success while playing in the 4-3 defensive scheme, but he hasn’t discovered how to play effectively at the professional level.

Nearly Impossible Odds Ahead

There’s no chance in hell that Moch will unseat Pro Bowl linebacker Burfict. The only way Moch will continue playing in the NFL will be if he can make the most of the few snaps he will play each game.

Burfict played in 1028 total defensive snaps during the 2013 season, approximately 95.9 percent of the 1,073 snaps possible.

That means, Burfict’s backups will most likely be fighting for their NFL career during less than 10 percent of the defensive snaps, or 107.3 snaps (for comparison, the average NFL game consists of 133.6 plays).

Moch may be able to make it happen only if he can first find the very few snaps on the field during a regular season game. To secure that, Moch must perform above average during the preseason in order to prove to coaches that he belongs out on the field.

Moch may be turning 26 years old today, but his real time to shine will come Aug. 7 when the Bengals take on Kansas City during Week 1 of the preseason.

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