Last weekend, the Dolphins throttled the Chiefs 31-3 for their first victory of the season. Ah yes! Finally! A victory! Where was this kind of play all season long?
The difference in the game was the QB play of Matt Moore. It wasn’t a 400 yard passing performance. It wasn’t even a 300 yard passing performance. It was a performance of a mere 23 pass attempts, 17 completions, 244 yards, and 3 TDs. More importantly, it was a performance of ZERO interceptions, ZERO fumbles, and ZERO sacks. Bottomline, it was a ZERO screw ups QB performance. It was steady, consistent, and mistake free. The Dolphins’ QB contributed to winning the game, rather than contributed to losing the game. The Dolphins have rarely seen this kind of performance in the last two and a half years. And, this kind of QB play makes a difference — a big difference.
However, how many of you had feelings of significant anxiety during the game? For me, it was 14-3 at halftime with the Dolphins’ offensive and defensive machines strongly chugging along. But, I turned to my wife and said “I wonder how they are going to screw this one up?” I was still sitting on the edge of my seat midway during the 3rd quarter thinking a 21-3 lead is still not safe. I was waiting and worrying for a fumble, an interception, or a punt return for a TD. I hate this kind of feeling while watching my favorite sports team.
Mr Ross … I hope you are listening to me on this one!
I can remember the days, what seems so long ago, when Chad Pennington was at the helm of the Dolphins in 2008. The game never seemed to be over. There always seemed to be the possibility that Pennington could pull a rabbit out of the hat and win the game. And … then … along came the other Chad. You know, Dr. Henne and Mr. Chaduh. Over the next two plus years, Chad Henne turned my optimistic game day outlook into anxiety to borderline paranoia outlook. There always seemed to be the possibility that Mr. Chaduh would rear his ugly head and figure out some way to lose the game. And … now … we have Matt Moore. Most Dolphans know his inconsistent history. So, most discussion this week is not on his potential for a repeat performance, but for the dark side of his play to return this week against the dismal Redskins.
I believe that many Dolphans are looking for the same thing that I am in QB play. I want a winner. When Dan Marino was at the helm, everyone believed in him. The fans, the announcers, the commentators, the coaches, the players … and, heck, even my dog all had the belief that Dan could pull a victory out of the jaws of any defeat. Now, it is the other way around. One can only imagine what the current players on the Dolphins really thought when looking at Chad Henne, or are really thinking looking at Matt Moore, in the huddle at crunch time. I’ll bet they really feel the same way you and I do … a lack of faith.
I have the NFL Sunday Ticket. This year I have been also following the Bengals games on my other TV in my living room — yes, I have two TVs and multi-task on game day by following the Bengals secondary to the Dolphins. Why am I following the Bengals? I am a fan of Andy Dalton (QB out of TCU). I had hoped that the Dolphins would have drafted him last April. I was upset when they did not. I started out watching the Bengals to see how Dalton would play in the NFL. Remember, most so-called experts thought Dalton was not a starting-caliber NFL QB. I believed that Dalton was not only going to be a good NFL QB, but he was going to be a winner. He won at TCU. And now, he is a winner with Cincinnati. I keep watching the Bengals on the other TV because I believe that the Bengals are never really out of the game with Dalton at the helm. It is exciting to watch.
Last year, the Bengals had Carson Palmer passing to T.O. and Ocho with Cedric Benson running the ball. They had a 4-12 record. This year, the Bengals have rookie Andy Dalton passing to rookie A.J. Green with the same Cedric Benson running the ball. So far, they have a 6-2 record. Who would have guessed this turn around? Who would have guessed that Dalton-to-Green would be better than Henne-to-Marshall? What’s the main difference? I have pointed out that Dalton has a history of being a winner — he won THE big game in last year’s Rose Bowl against a very good Wisconsin defense and under the tremendous pressure of a BCS Buster playing on the national stage. And, I have pointed out that Chad Henne has a history of not being a winner — he never won THE biggest Michigan game of the year for four years straight against Ohio State (going 0-4). That’s what I think is the main difference. You cannot teach winning. I think it is part of one’s character. Marino had it. Pennington had it. I think Dalton has it. Henne does not.
Next April, the Dolphins will likely select a QB in the 2012 NFL Draft. I sure hope that they intend on selecting a winner. I hope they don’t just select the prototypical NFL QB like Chad Henne. They need to pick one with winning as part of their character. Can you imagine if Ross had lured Jim Harbaugh to coach the Dolphins and they had traded down in the first round to select Andy Dalton (and then selected an offensive lineman in the second round, who can actually pull, to play at left guard)? I think we might be looking at 6-2 rather than 1-7. Harbaugh and Dalton have proven they are winners thus far in their young NFL careers — they were both winners in college.
Getting back to reality, I wish Matt Moore all the best this weekend against the Redskins. I hope he follows up his excellent performance against the Chiefs with another one this weekend against the Redskins. I hope he will help me overcome my borderline Dolphins QB paranoia disorder by having another ZERO screw ups QB performance.
What do you think about drafting a winner vs. the prototypical NFL QB?
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