All the talk leading up to the start of the new league year was how the Miami Dolphins needed to upgrade their quarterback play. It was the talk from the fans. It was the talk from the media. It was even the talk from the team. So, now, with free agency slowing down and the NFL Draft still a month away, the Dolphins are settling in with the exact same quarterback who ended last season under center as the presumed starter going in to next season.
So, where exactly was the upgrade?
To be fair, the Dolphins made a run at free agent quarterback Peyton Manning, who clearly wanted to go somewhere other than Miami, and eventually signed with the Denver Broncos. The Dolphins took a look at free agents Matt Flynn and Alex Smith, but passed on both when their asking price was too high for a player coming to the team to compete for the starting position. The team did add former Pro Bowl quarterback David Garrard, who is going to compete with incumbent starter Matt Moore for the top quarterback spot on the team, but for now, the quarterback position seems to be Moore's.
But with all this talk about needing an upgrade, and the obvious search for a new starter, where exactly does that leave the relationship between Moore and the Dolphins?
"He and I had a great conversation last Thursday or Friday when the dust settled," Miami head coach Joe Philbin told the media when he visited the NFL Owners Meeting this week . "We talked and he sounds very excited and very optimistic. He's anxious and can't wait to compete for a job. We talked about how I envision that position moving forward, and he was all on board."
Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland weighed in on Moore as well. "We want to provide a competitive environment at the quarterback position to raise the game for Matt Moore or a competitor and we feel like we've done that. A lot is to be said about Matt Moore and what he was able to accomplish last year with no OTAs and limited training camp, limited knowledge of us in the offseason [due to the lockout]."
Moore became the starter for the Dolphins after a Week 4 shoulder injury knocked Chad Henne out for the season. He finished the year with a 6-6 record as a starter, throwing for 2,497 yards on 210-for-347 passes, a 60.5% completion rate. He had 16 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Moore's 87.1 pass rating was the twelfth best in the league.
"He's not necessarily a 'by the book' quarterback, but he was very productive," Philbin said of Moore's 2011 season. "He has good arm strength, and he kind of has that knack. He has the ability to move the team." Philbin is implementing a west coast style offense this year, with emphasis on quarterback accuracy - one of the weaker parts of Moore's game.
"(Garrard) in 2010 had very good productivity and I think he throws a real catchable ball," Philbin continued. "He can spin it pretty good and when he came in to visit he moved well, threw the ball wall and has good velocity on the ball. I think fundamentally he's got nice mechanics and I like his personality and the way he handles himself."
"We're going to keep looking, but I'm excited about Matt Moore," Dolphins owner Stephen Ross added at the Onwers Meeting. "We have so many people that like what Matt Moore did last year. As he got more experience the team got better. That's a good place to start with. If we can continue that it would be great."
The Dolphins hold the eighth pick in April's NFL Draft, and could be looking to target Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill's head coach at Texas A&M, Mike Sherman, is now the Miami offensive coordinator.