I think I speak for all Dolphin fans when I say, what?! The same team that started 0-7, that could not score a touchdown, have now won three in a row and just spanked a team that only a few weeks ago, many people were talking about as a cinderella. A lot has changed for this team, starting with the defense. Granted, they haven’t played the class of the league in terms of offensive production, beating the Chiefs, Redskins and Bills, this is the same defense that could not stop my grandmother through the first seven weeks. Now, they have not allowed a touchdown in 12 quarters and are beginning to look like the sixth-best defense from last year.
But I’m not here to talk about the defense. I want to talk about Matt Moore.
After a slow start when Chad Henne went down with a season-ending injury, Moore has seriously turned it on over the three-game winning streak. Moore has gone 51-72 (70.8 percent), for 613 yards, 6 TD’s and only 1 interception. He looks confident and poised in the pocket. He is using his legs to extend plays and finally using all of his weapons to make the plays. Forgotten tight end Anthony Fasano has scored four touchdowns in the last four games.
But please people, if I hear any person tell me that Moore is the answer for the Phins at quarterback because of this sample size, I will personally find you and slap you.
I’d like to bring you back to 2009, if I can. Week 12. Carolina Panthers vs. New York Jets. The Panthers came into this game with a record of 4-6 after finishing the 2008 season with a 12-4 record. Their quarterback was Jake Delhomme and the backup was little known Matt Moore. I’m sure you can figure out what happened. Delhomme went down with a broken finger on his throwing hand and Moore was thrust into action, with obviously very low expectations (remind you of anything?)
Well, Moore comes in, and he leads the Panthers on a hell of a stretch to end the season. The team that was 4-7 for Moore’s first start rallied around their new quarterback, finishing the season 4-1 and ending with a respectable 8-8 record. They did not make the playoffs, but Moore played well. In just five games, Moore threw for 1,053 yards, and more impressively, eight touchdowns vs. only two interceptions.
With the performance, the Panthers released Delhomme in the offseason, handing the reigns to Moore. They did draft Jimmy Clausen in the second round of the draft, with the intention of letting him simmer on the bench and learn under Moore for awhile. That idea lasted all of two games, before Moore’s early season performance forced the Panthers to start Clausen in the 3rd game of his career. Moore’s statistics over those first two games? 20-49, 307 yards, 2 TD’s and 4 INT’s. Worse off, the Panthers were 0-2.
Clausen performed as expected in his starts, as the Panthers fell to 0-4, and they brought back Moore for game five against the Bears. The Panthers scored six points, and lost. Moore completed five passes on the day, and threw two interceptions.
Moore played three more games in 2010, with a record of 1-2. He ended the season throwing 10 interceptions vs. five touchdowns. The Panthers ended up finishing the season 2-14, grabbing the number one pick and hungirly picking Cam Newton, letting Moore go in the process.
What is my point here? Do not get blinded by what Moore is doing right now. Yes, he is playing well. Yes, he looks like an NFL quarterback. But we have seen this story before. The Dolphins need to use this offseason to find their franchise quarterback. Moore is a journeyman, but nothing more. He is a capable NFL backup quarterback, a player I would love to have backing up our new franchise quarterback.
I don’t care if Moore leads this team to six more victories, he should not be the starting quarterback in 2012. Keep your eyes firmly on the 2012 draft class. Matt Barkley, Landry Jones and maybe still Andrew Luck should be on the radar. If we have learned anything this season, great stories like the Buffalo Bills and Ryan Fitzpatrick do not last, and you can’t get blinded by a couple nice performances. Go get your franchise quarterback, Miami!
EDIT: I am in no way trying to downplay what Moore has done in the last three games. He does look like a good quarterback, and has played very well. I am looking long-term here though, and I just do not see him as a franchise quarterback for anybody. He is more of a game manager than he is a game changer, and the Dolphins need a game changer under center.