Dolphins Can Still Win With Matt Moore at Quarterback
Photo by Morgan Coleman
Fact: The Miami Dolphins are an 8-5 football team with a real chance of making the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season.
Counterpoint: Matt Moore, the new Dolphins quarterback, has been a part of roughly 1 percent of that 8-5 record and has completed 19 passes since the week the South Korean recording artist Psy released his megahit "Gangnam Style."
Both statements are true, which probably doesn't make Dolphins fans feel any better about life moving forward without Ryan Tannehill and his busted ACL. Fans have to be mystified by this bit of bad luck that has befallen their franchise during a season that had so much promise.
Luckily, we here at New Times tend to look at the pint glass half-full. In that regard, we will attempt to cheer up Dolphins fans who have spent the last couple days feeling sorry for themselves. Ryan Tannehill might not be back this season, but that's OK!
This team really can win with Moore.
I heard this is the place where people are being told Matt Moore is good at football.
Nope. It's not because he's bad (he's probably bad, though); it's because we have no idea what he is at this point in his career. That, however, might actually be a reason for optimism. Tannehill has started 76 straight games for the Dolphins. Moore last started a game January 1, 2012. Back then, he wasn't terrible (22 of 32 passes for 135 yards with one TD), but he wasn't great either (two interceptions).
Again, that was damn near half a decade ago, so it's impossible to say what kind of player Matt Moore is at this point in his career.
So why should fans be anything but worried if Moore wasn't even good five years ago?
Because not every team can have Tony Romo holding a clipboard while waiting to come in and save the season. Moore has been with Miami for six seasons, and this is his ninth in the NFL, so he's seen it all and he won't be overwhelmed by any particular moment. Also, Moore has been able to stand next to Adam Gase for 13 games as he manipulated each offensive series from the sideline. Just that sort of knowledge and experience will have him on the same page from the moment the ball is kicked off against the New York Jets this Saturday night.
Tannehill has been excellent over the past few months, though. Can Moore come close to matching that?
Yes and no. Moore calls himself "a pocket passer who likes to throw it down the field," which in theory is exactly what Tannehill is (even if most fans still don't believe in his deep ball). Tannehill, however, is mobile, and Matt Moore isn't now.
What Moore should be plenty of capable of doing is managing the game, moving the football through high-percentage passes to Jarvis Landry and backs. Expect to see a lot of that and a lot fewer bombs, which he apparently loves to throw.
I'm still not sold on Matt Moore. Why should I believe the Dolphins offense won't stink now?
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Two words: Jay Ajayi. Two more words: Run it.
So Jay Ajayi is about to get the Ricky Williams treatment, huh?
If the Dolphins want to help Moore and win football games, asking him to turn around and hand the ball to Damien Williams and Ajayi 40 times a game is their best chance to win. Even if the Fins get down 17-0 against the Jets this weekend, Gase should continue to run the ball. It's their best chance at victory.
Ajayi is averaging five yards a carry, which is fourth-best in the NFL, and is just 44 yards shy of 1,000 even though his first four games were basically a wash (he had 75 yards in that time). The Dolphins' winning streak coincided with Ajayi going off, not Tannehill becoming Dan Marino, so it's time to go back to what got the team here.
Anything else that might make me feel good about Gase taking Moore to the playoffs?
Never forget that Gase won a playoff game as an offensive coordinator with Tim Tebow under center. Tebow plays for the Scottsdale Scorpions now. The Scottsdale Scorpions are an Arizona Fall League team. The Arizona Fall League is baseball.
I have to admit, this one actually improved my mood.
Gase saved Tannehill's career in Miami, so it's not entirely crazy to think a guy who molded an offense that catered to Tebow's skills can't create one that uses Matt Moore's skills. This is coach-of-the-year stuff, but it's not impossible to dream up.
I feel better.
You should. The Dolphins are 8-5 in December with the terrible Jets up next on the schedule. Life is good, minus a few minor details, such as a franchise quarterback with a broken knee.
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