It appears Matt Moore is still a backup quarterback after all.
When Ryan Tannehill went down with a knee injury a few months ago, the search was immediately on to find a capable replacement. Many names were brought up. Colin Kaepernick, AJ McCarron, even Tim Tebow, yet head coach Adam Gase settled on the player he knew best, and the player he thought would give the Dolphins the best chance to compete in 2017. Gase chose Jay Cutler.
That move was both praised and scrutinized by many. Some claimed that Cutler would be an upgrade over Tannehill, while others questioned bringing back a player who had chosen to retire just a few months prior, with seemingly little desire left to play the game of football. Then the regular season started, and most fans hoped that the preseason drama (hurricanes, injuries, players going AWOL, etc.) that plagued the Dolphins would subside.
However, that was not to be. Cutler struggled to acclimate to Miami’s offense. Save for a few splash plays, his accuracy was off, his chemistry with Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, and DeVante Parker was lacking, and his decision making was questionable at best. Soon after, Dolphins fans began to berate Cutler by the thousands, booing him off the field during home games and crying out for a new, yet familiar face. Fans were chanting, begging, and pleading for a replacement. That replacement... Matt Moore.
Wanting to see if Moore could inspire some new life into Miami’s offense was understandable. Adam Gase’s unit was dead last in the league by almost every metric, and Moore played admirably well in Ryan Tannehill’s absence last season. In four regular season games, Moore completed 63.2% of his passes, threw for eight touchdowns and just three interceptions, and posted a 105.6 passer rating. Those numbers are nothing to be scoffed at, and they prove just how reliable the longtime backup is. They also show how valuable he is to the Dolphins organization. Having a capable backup quarterback who can win games in the absence of a starter is a wonderful luxury to have. So when Cutler went down with a rib injury and Matt Moore led Miami to a comeback victory over the division rival Jets, it’s no wonder that fans were excited to see what else Moore could do.
That excitement, however, quickly died down when Moore led the Dolphins to a crushing 40-0 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. The loss wasn’t entirely Moore’s fault by any measure, but the 33-year old veteran looked wildly out of sorts and threw two pick-sixes that sealed Miami’s fate.
With all that said, I think the perspective of many fans was lost during the Cutler saga. When Tannehill went down during training camp, Gase immediately reached out to Cutler, showing that he was barely even considering sticking with Moore for the season. When Miami’s offense was struggling as the year opened, Gase continually defended Cutler and emphasized the fact that the team’s inability to move the ball on offense was not primarily due to a lack of talent under center. He routinely shut down any thought of replacing Cutler with Moore (barring injury), and expressed confidence in Cutler’s ability to win games. Adam Gase, the head coach of an NFL team, did not feel that Moore was capable of leading the team to the postseason and beyond. I think many fans forgot the fact that, when all is said and done, Matt Moore is a backup quarterback for a reason.
Moore has talent, there’s no doubt about that. He also inspires confidence in his offense and is a locker room favorite. However, he’s simply not the best option that Miami has at the quarterback position. We should be grateful to have such a reliable backup, but Moore’s just that, a backup. So don’t be surprised that coach Gase has already announced that, if healthy, Jay Cutler will be Miami’s starting quarterback when the Raiders visit South Florida next week. Gase brought Cutler here for a reason, and it’s to be the team’s starting quarterback for the 2017 season.