The Miami Dolphins are in the midst of a four-game slide, and their quarterback situation has been less than ideal for long stretches of the season. An unfortunate preseason injury to quarterback Ryan Tannehill first prompted a change under center, and with the offense currently struggling—it could be time for another change.
Jay Cutler is in the NFL’s concussion protocol after being hit on the final play of the first half against the Buccaneers, which led to a spirited second half performance from Matt Moore. This is the second time we’ve seen Moore successfully orchestrate coach Adam Gase’s offense after Cutler has been sidelined. Unfortunately for Miami, naming Moore the starter isn’t an obvious solution after his poor outing against the Ravens earlier this season.
With the aforementioned factors in mind, we asked contributors Justin Hier, Chris Early Steve Dewald, Kevin Nogle and Robert Molnar to share their thoughts on the Dolphins’ quarterback dilemma.
Justin Hier: Both Cutler and Moore have had ups and downs all season, making this a difficult question to answer outright. When Cutler went down against the Jets and Moore stepped in, he looked like the guy who should be leading the rest of the way. Then the Ravens game came along and Moore and the rest of the Dolphins squad got walloped 40-0. Cutler finally seemed to be clicking against the Raiders, but then immediately regressed in primetime against the Panthers, and hit an all-time low last week against the Buccaneers.
With all that said, moving forward, I think Moore gives the Dolphins the best opportunity to win games. The rest of the offense trusts him, he’s willing to take the big shots necessary to keep the offense interesting and the opposing defense guessing, and he’s (at least somewhat) safer with the football. If Cutler can’t play against the Patriots and Moore falls flat once again though, we could be having this same conversation again next week.
Steve Dewald (@SteveDHoops): The biggest knock on Moore’s candidacy for the starting job was his dismal performance against the Ravens in Week 8. Given that Miami was working on a shortened week with a new quarterback under center, the 40-point blowout loss is a little more forgivable.
If you take that performance out of the equation, Moore’s numbers while stepping in for Cutler are solid. Minus the game against Baltimore, Moore has passed for 470 yards while completing 61 percent of his passes. Along with his numbers, it is clear that he has chemistry with wide receivers Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry.
With Miami’s playoff hopes dwindling, switching quarterback responsibilities to Moore seems to be the best option in my opinion. Stripping Cutler of his starting job wouldn’t be an easy task for Gase, however, as it was the relationship between the two that coaxed the former Bears quarterback out of retirement.
Chris Early (@TheEarl007): Use both of them. Cutler seems like the kind of QB that would give the Pats fits while Moore could probably handle everyone else. Use a platoon system. At this point, what could it hurt?
Robert Molnar (@RMolnar1010): It’s that time of year already? Talking about the Miami Dolphins starting quarterback has been a yearly tradition for as long as I can remember. That said, this year’s situation may be the most dire I’ve seen.
Jay Cutler has been Jay Cutler this season in terms of his performances. Turning in solid, potentially game-winning performances a couple times this year, Cutler has also turned in performances that would make a high school team look like world beaters. Adding to this for me is the fact that he remains the most skilled option on the roster.
While Matt Moore may have some good games every now and then, he proved against Baltimore that he is not the answer now. Add in his age and you have a player that is unlikely to remain around Miami for the foreseeable future.
With neither player likely to be around for much longer, I firmly believe it is time to give the youth a try since this season is in all certainty, over. Whether it be David Fales or Brandon Doughty, the Dolphins should give these young quarterbacks a chance to prove themselves and potentially earn the team’s backup or even starting role heading into 2018. After all, what do we have to lose?
Kevin Nogle (@ThePhinsider): Prior to the start of the season, I thought going to grab Cutler as the replacement starter made sense for the Dolphins because it removed a large portion of the learning curve of an emergency quarterback signing trying to learn a new offensive system. Cutler and head coach Adam Gase have a relationship from when Gase was the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears and Cutler was his quarterback. Everything seemed to say that made sense.
Plus, I like Moore, but we all know what he is already. He is a great backup, who can come in and spark the offense to a win, and maybe when you a couple of games as the starter if needed, but eventually, everything seems to catch up to him, and it all implodes. This year, we have already seen that once when the Dolphins were blown out 40-0 by the Baltimore Ravens with Moore under center. Now we are back in the situation where the Dolphins may have to make a decision: bring back Cutler after his concussion, or allow Moore to start and hope he does not look like the Moore we all saw against the Ravens.
I think the answer may be exactly what Chris said above and I have seen in a few other places - bring back the “WoodStrock” concept where Miami used both David Woodley and Don Strock. If the Dolphins are happy with the running back committee of Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake, why not give it a try with the two quarterbacks. Once of them gets hot in each game, stick with him.
If you have to play one quarterback only, you have to, at this point, go with Moore I think. I was big on Cutler giving the team the best chance to win because we know what happens with Moore. But, there is no denying this offense has something different when Moore is in the game.
The biggest issue I have with putting Fales or Doughty into the game and giving the younger players time is that Miami is still one game out of the playoffs. Yes, they are 4-6 and looking bad, but when the Ravens are the sixth seed at 5-5, you have to keep playing for this season. The AFC is a mess and Miami has a chance at finding some late season magic and getting into the postseason for a second-straight season. It is a long-shot, but until it becomes impossible, you have to play for today. That means, give the ball to Moore - or Cutler/Moore - and see what happens.
And, pray that Ryan Tannehill and 2018 get here soon.
How would you handle Miami’s quarterback situation? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.