The last time Matt Moore was an NFL starting quarterback? That would be 2011 when he won six of 12 starts in a season a bad Miami Dolphins team finished 6-10, saw the head coach fired before the season was over, and had Todd Bowles as interim coach the season’s final month.
The last time Moore started an NFL game? Jan. 1, 2012. He completed 22 of 32 passes for 135 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in a 19-17, season-ending victory over the New York Jets.
The last time Matt Moore took significant snaps in a Miami Dolphins practice? The first week of September. During the preseason.
That’s how it is when Ryan Tannehill is the starting quarterback and starts 77 consecutive games and likes to take nearly all the snaps in practice to make sure he’s comfortable and prepared for the game ahead.
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He’s typically relegated to scout team work.
That isn’t the same as getting practice repetitions with the starting offense and won’t be the same going forward against other teams for Moore, the Dolphins’ new starter the remainder of this season.
Tannehill has a partially torn ACL and MCL and is not expected to play the next couple of games and perhaps the rest of this season if the Dolphins are eliminated from their playoff chase.
That means Moore is the new starter. That means T.J. Yates, signed Tuesday, will be the new backup.
That means Fridays might be different for Moore.
It was on Friday the past three months when Moore and Dolphins quarterback coach Bo Hardegree spent a lot of time grinding on the game plan so that Moore could feel prepared for the worst-case scenario — that moment he might have to go into a game and replace Tannehill.
That moment came Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. And Moore finished the game 3 of 5 for 47 yards, including a 29-yard completion to Kenny Stills to help set up the winning field goal.
“[Head] Coach [Adam] Gase and Bo, our quarterback coach, they put me through the runner during the week, every week,” Moore said. “I feel good, but clearly, there will be some [rust]. I haven’t done it in a while, but I don’t know … I’m going in confident and feeling good.”
So what are the Dolphins about to get from the quarterback spot? What does Moore offer?
“I’m obviously not shy,” Moore said. “I’m not one to not throw it down the field. This will be the first time. … Well, [Sunday] really was the first time playing under coach Gase. The preseason is what it is, but [this was] a real game, the style.
“My whole thing is to execute this offense. What is my style? I’m a pocket passer who likes to throw it down the field. That’s how I would put it, but that doesn’t matter. I think if you’re in there, you have to execute the plays called. At the end of the day, the ultimate deal is to get the win, so whatever style that is, that’s what it’ll be.”
Moore is a leader. And he doesn’t take, um, stuff from anyone. Those who remember know that in 2011 then-starter Chad Henne and ace receiver Brandon Marshall had a love-hate relationship. Marshall gave Henne a pretty hard time when he didn’t get him the football and Henne basically just took it.
Well, when Henne got injured and Moore got in, one of his first passes was to Marshall. And the receiver dropped it. Later, on another pass play, Moore went to another receiver.
Back on the sideline, Marshall being Marshall went to the quarterback and demanded to know why Moore hadn’t thrown the ball to him.
“I did,” Moore told him, “and you dropped it.”
Moore is not nearly as mobile or athletic as Tannehill so he won’t be a consistent major threat on read-option plays. And there’s this:
My recollection of 2011 Matt Moore is that because he was often trying to go down the field, he sometimes held on to the football. And that got him hit a lot. And he fumbled 14 times in the 13 games he played.
Fourteen fumbles in 13 games.
That cannot repeat.
Gase was brought to the Dolphins to fix Ryan Tannehill. So now Gase has to do similar for Moore. Moore’s rating for the Dolphins in 2011 was 87.1. He threw 16 touchdown passes and nine interceptions.
“I know Matt will do whatever we need him to do to win a game,” Gase said. “He has a lot of ability, as far as being a down-the-field passer. I don’t think he ever gives himself credit for the fact that he sees coverage well. He can throw the ball underneath. He can throw the intermediate ball.
“I like the fact that he’s not afraid to scramble outside the pocket and kind of play a little looser than a lot of coaches like. I like it.”
So Gase likes Moore. Great. The two have three days to make everything right before the Dolphins play the New York Jets on Saturday night. No pressure.
Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero