The Miami Dolphins got a chance to see what Matt Moore could do for them at the end of 2016. Unfortunately it was when the team was pushing towards a playoff birth.
Moore has had opportunities to sign with other teams but instead has opted to remain in Miami as a the back-up to Ryan Tannehill. His presence in the locker room is valued by the entire team as he has been a leader since arriving in Miami in 2011.
The Dolphins avoided a serious quarterback injury when Ryan Tannehill sprained his MCL/ACL instead of tearing it. Tannehill did not need surgery and was a full-time participant without limitations during the teams last two OTA’s. While some in the media point to him being slower and less mobile, others have disputed that statement.
Tannehill is the clear starter for the Dolphins and in 2016 made huge developmental strides under first year head coach Adam Gase. Tannehill ranked 2nd in the NFL in long ball accuracy which is a massive jump from his previous seasons under Joe Philbin.
Perhaps the biggest change came with the flexibility that Gase handed Tannehill. Instead of shackling him with the inability to audible, Gase has worked with Tannehill to make pre-snap changes as needed. In 2016 it helped spark an offense that had been quiet and far less productive.
2017 should see another step forward for Tannehill, barring an injury of course. It will be the first time since 2009 that Tannehill has remained in the same system since arriving in the NFL. While Bill Lazor had continued Mike Sherman’s offensive style, the transition was not easy for Tannehill and his growth was tempered.
That should not be the case in 2017.
Moore has been a quiet behind the scenes quarterback since giving up the starting job in 2012 to Tannehill. Yet from the shadows he has helped make Tannehill an NFL quarterback. Moore has taught Tannehill how to review film and implement in-game changes from the sidelines and positional meeting rooms. Like all good back-ups, Moore took control when he was needed.
Following the injury to Tannehill, Moore took over a tight game against the Cardinals and did enough to keep the Dolphins in the win column. In fact Moore continued to lead the team the final two weeks of the season with two consecutive 34 point games as the Dolphins finished the season with three straight wins and the final playoff seed.
Moore’s value to the team is his knowledge of not only the system but the players around him. 2017 may see him needed more if Tannehill has any setback at all from his knee injury and because of that, Moore could be the most valuable player on the Dolphins offense heading into 2017.
Doughty did not see time outside of the pre-season in 2016 and when the Dolphins lost Ryan Tannehill, the team signed a street free agent to back-up Moore. Doughty will need to prove that he can become that back-up in 2017 should the Dolphins have to shuffle their quarterback again.
The former 7th round draft pick is holding tight but he will need to compete in training camp and it’s unlikely that the Dolphins will carry three quarterbacks into the season leaving Doughty a potential practice squad player again.
Fales has had a journeyman career since arriving in the NFL. Drafted by the Chicago Bears in round 6 of the 2014 draft, Fales has been released by the Bears, signed by the Ravens, released by the Ravens, signed by the Ravens, released by the Ravens, signed by the Bears, and is now competing for the back-up to the back-up job in Miami. Unlike Doughty however, Fales has seen regular season action completing two of five passes in a late fourth quarter loss to the Vikings while with the Bears a 2nd time.
Fales could be the Dolphins plan should Tannehill re-injure his knee and the team is forced to use Moore as their starter. Simply because he has, albeit limited, game experience. If however Tannehill did go down, I would suspect Miami would look to the street free agents.