Miami Dolphins

Tannehill out, Dolphins’ hyper-competitive ‘gym rat’ in Sunday against Steelers

Dolphins starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, center, talks with Matt Moore, left, as he and T.J. Yates, right, practice. Tannihill did not practice but was on the field as the Dolphins practice for their upcoming playoff game against the Steelers at their team's practice facility in Davie, Florida on Wednesday, January 4, 2017.
Dolphins starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, center, talks with Matt Moore, left, as he and T.J. Yates, right, practice. Tannihill did not practice but was on the field as the Dolphins practice for their upcoming playoff game against the Steelers at their team's practice facility in Davie, Florida on Wednesday, January 4, 2017. cjuste@miamiherald.com

Here’s what you want in a backup quarterback:

Coach Adam Gase went to Matt Moore in recent days and notified the Dolphins’ backup quarterback that he would indeed make the biggest start of his career on Sunday.

Moore’s reaction? Same as always — cool, calm and determined.

“It’s kind of just how I go through it,” Moore said of his even-keel disposition.

“It’s hard enough as it is, so I think if you’re tight and you think about it and dwell on all that, it just makes it worse. I think I have high standards and high expectations, but I like to be as comfortable as possible.”

Added Gase: “That’s just how he is. He just moved on. He knows, in his mind, ‘If you’re telling me I’m playing, I’m playing. If you tell me anything different, I’ll move on from there.’ 

Moore is indeed playing; despite recent progress from Ryan Tannehill’s ailing left knee, Tannehill is still simply not ready to return Sunday against the Steelers.

Gase made that decision after watching Tannehill go through drills Wednesday — but he didn’t rule out Tannehill practicing next week if the Dolphins pull off the biggest upset of wild-card weekend.

“I think we’re close,” Gase said.

Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase talks throughout the 2016 regular season

“We’re close. Like I said [Wednesday], we’re still in that gray area. He’ll just keep letting us know where he’s at and how he feels. Keep talking to the doctors. We’re still in a lot of conversations, and every day he starts moving around and we try to do different drills with him to figure out what he can articulate to us.”

Close — but not close enough.

So it’ll be up to Moore to beat the Steelers in the first playoff start of his 10-year career.

The Dolphins tried to make the decision as early in the week as possible to give whoever would start the necessary number of practice reps.

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” Moore said. “You couldn’t ask for much more.”

Well, he could ask for a win. And based on conversations with people who know Moore best, he expects to win at most everything he does.

Moore has been with the Dolphins since 2011 — a year after Darren Rizzi, Miami’s special teams coordinator, joined the franchise.

Clyde Christensen, Miami Dolphins Offensive Coordinator, talks about the decision to start quarterback Matt Moore over injured Ryan Tannehill.

Rizzi called Moore “a competitor in everything” — from a trick pass contest on the practice field to a ping-pong match in the players’ lounge.

“He’s going to treat it like the ping-pong championship of the world,” Rizzi said.

“If we were out here picking Whiffle ball teams, I would pick him first.”

Rizzi also called Moore a “gym rat” and that he has a future in coaching, if he wants one.

That’s a long way off. Moore is just 32 and in great health.

He’s been on the field for a total of 288 snaps — or roughly four regulation games — since the Dolphins drafted Tannehill in 2012.

“I feel good,” Moore said.

“I haven’t been hit in a while. So, playing three games and getting hit, there are a couple of things here and there; but it’s nothing crazy and part of the game. I feel really good.”

Moore has played well, too. He’s never had a higher completion percentage (63.2) or passer rating (105.6) in seasons in which he attempted more than one pass.

Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins WR, talks to the media about his first career NFL playoff game this upcoming Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers and his confidence in quarterback Matt Moore.

And he insists that his chemistry with his receivers is appreciably better than when he took over nearly a month ago.

How so?

“Sunday was a perfect example,” Moore said.

“The Patriots were pretty stingy. I think on Jarvis [Landry’s] touchdown, he started on the right side of the field and worked all the way left, and I kind of found him. Things like that. I think they understand how I see things now and use it to their advantage to get open and catch balls underneath.”

Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi is upset the media is down playing the team in their playoff match up against Pittsburgh.

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