Moore, Hoak last remnants of '70s Steelers
Tom Moore earned a couple of Super Bowl rings coaching Steelers receivers in the late 1970s and criticism for coordinating an offense for Chuck Noll that was perceived by some as too stodgy and conservative in the late 1980s.
"There were certain people complaining, yeah," Steelers running backs coach Dick Hoak recalled.
Nobody's complaining these days in Indianapolis.
"He and I are on the same page," Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said of Moore, the only offensive coordinator Manning has worked with in his eight NFL seasons. "I will always be indebted to Tom for what he's done for me and helping me establish my career."
Moore's 42-year coaching career, one that includes 28 NFL seasons, features 12 stops at five colleges and six professional destinations, including the WFL.
The constant is production.
The Steelers became a passing team while winning Super Bowls XIII and XIV with Moore coaching their receivers.
They advanced to one AFC Championship game (1984) and within two points of another (a 24-23 playoff loss at Denver denied them in 1989) with Moore running the offensive show.
In Detroit, Moore coordinated an offense that became the first in NFL history to have two receivers catch 100 passes (Herman Moore, a then-NFL record 123; and Brett Perriman, 108) in 1995.
Herman Moore's record was shattered by Harrison's 143 catches in 2002.
That was Tom Moore's fifth season as offensive coordinator of the Colts.
His second-through-fourth campaigns (1999-2001) saw the Colts become the first team in NFL history to boast a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver in three consecutive seasons.
This season's Colts are second in total offense (at 379.9 yards per game), first in points (305), first in touchdowns (39, two of which have been by the defense) and first in net points (plus-153).
"It's just like everything else, when you're winning everything you do is right, and when you're losing, the game has passed you by," Hoak said.
Moore's Steelers' tenure stretched from 1977 through 1989, at which time he left for an NFL job in his home state of Minnesota.
Moore arrived in Indianapolis in 1998, four years ahead of head coach Tony Dungy, another alumnus from the Steelers' coaching staff under Noll (1981-88) and a Steelers defensive back from 1977-78.
Dungy, who played quarterback at the University of Minnesota while Moore was on the Gophers' staff (1975-76) replaced Jim Mora as Indy's coach in 2002.
Moore remained the Colts' offensive coordinator.
"We have Pittsburgh roots, Tom and I," Dungy said. "I don't know if I would call (Moore's philosophy) 'stodgy,' but it's simple -- just do what you do and try to do it very well.
"Tom is a guy that very much believes in his convictions and his ability to stick to his convictions over the years, but he has a great capacity to tailor what he wants to do to the talent of the guys that he has. I think he does a great job of getting the most out of everybody that plays for him. That's why he's been able to coach so well for so long."
Moore is old-school enough to have played quarterback for taskmaster Forest Evashevski at Iowa (1957-60) and flexible enough to run an attack that's as cutting edge as it gets in the new millennium in Indy.
"That offense is different than the one he had here," Hoak said. "It's more like the one he got to when he was coaching in Detroit, a one-back offense. When he was here it was more a two-back offense, in fact those times were two-back times. Now, it's back to a one-back offense, spreading 'em out with three wide receivers.
"That offense has evolved. He's taken what he had in Detroit, and its kind of grown to the point now where he has a really sharp quarterback that can run that thing."
Hoak, 65, and Moore, 67, talk every other week or so unless they're competing, at which time such phone calls are suspended.
Along with New Mexico State defensive coordinator Woody Widenhofer (61), they're the last remnants, in Hoak's estimation, from the Steelers' staffs of the 1970s still in coaching.
"People ask both of us, when are you going to retire?" Hoak said. "Like we both say, we still enjoy it.
"The game's changed, but I know Tom's still enjoying it."
No matter how the offense he's running is being received.