The Miami Dolphins demolished the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, moving up to 3-7 after an 0-7 start to the season. Seemingly overnight, the team went from the laughing stock of the league to a team that has not allowed a touchdown in three games, outscoring the Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, and Bills 86-20 during that span.
The Dolphins' resurgence this season started with the resurgence of quarterback Matt Moore. The undrafted free agent from Oregon State was signed by the Carolina Panthers in 2007 after a brief stint with the (who else?) Dallas Cowboys in the preseason. With Carolina, Moore was thrust into the starting role late in his rookie year after David Carr and Vinny Testaverde failed to hold on to the job.
Coming into the 2008 preseason, Moore was thought to be Carolina's starter until a broken left fibula landed him on injured reserve, and out for the entire year. Moore saw the field in spot duty a couple of times early in 2009, finally returning as a starter in Week 12. In the 5 games he started in 2009, Moore threw for eight touchdowns, with one interception.
As the 2010 season approached Moore was entrenched as the Panthers' starter, only to suffer a concussion in the Week 1 game against the New York Giants. Coming back from that injury, Moore struggled with interceptions, and was lifted for rookie Jimmy Clausen. Three games later, the Panthers reinstalled Moore as the starter, until he was again injured, this time to his shoulder, and was once again put on IR.
This past July, Moore was signed by the Dolphins to be the backup quarterback to Chad Henne. Fans and media alike despised the move, as rumors swirled that the team had nearly traded with Denver for Kyle Orton. Orton, who the Broncos acquired from the Chicago Bears when Chicago looked to upgrade with Jay Cutler, was seen as the big name quarterback available for a trade as the Broncos looked to start Tim Tebow.
Moore was seen as a feeble attempt to bring "competition" to challenge Henne - and Moore's Carolina days haunted him.
But, that all changed on October 2nd. Henne suffered a season ending shoulder separation, thrusting Moore into the starting role. Leading the team, Moore took over where Henne had left off, and the team spiraled to a 0-7 start. But, just like when he wasn't drafted, when he was burried on the depth chart in Carolina, and when he was benched by the Panthers for Jimmy Clausen, Moore didn't stop.
And, now, the Dolphins have a quarterback making smart decisions. A quarterback adding some touch on his passes. A quarterback finding the right guy, and making the right throw.
And the Dolphins have a three game winning streak.
And the talk among the fans, and the media, has turned from flaming the quarterback to asking if he is playimng at a level to make him the Dolphins starter next season.
During the last three games, Moore has gone 51-for-73 for 613 yards with six touchdowns and one interception. Through Sunday night's game, Moore leads the NFL in ESPN's new Total QBR for the week, grading at a 98.0 out of a possible 100, nearly 8 points ahead of the second place Jay Cutler.
"He [Moore] is everything you need," running back Reggie Bush stated during his post-game press conference. "He is everything we need him to be. He is doing a great job. He's a huge, huge, difference-maker."
Moore's play over the past three games has most likely insured the Dolphins will not look to re-sign former starter, and soon-to-be-free agent, Henne.
But, is Moore the actual answer for the Dolphins? No. Is he good enough to start next season? If he keeps playing like this, yes. The Dolphins should be looking to draft a new, "franchise" quarterback this year. Having Moore lead the team early in the season, while the rookie adjusts to the NFL, is probably the best thing for which the Dolphins could ask.
And, now they have that opportunity.
So, the Dolphins now have a starting quarterback no one seems to want to have as their starter. He is often overlooked for the next, flashy guy; but when given the chance, he shows he has the ability to be a successful starter in the league.
As Gregg Rosenthal of ProFootballTalk.com states it, is it possible that, in Matt Moore, the Dolphins actually got Kyle Orton?