Miami Dolphins

Could Matt Moore start for a third of the league? One Dolphins coach says yes

Who’d you rather have: Matt Moore or Brock Osweiler?
Who’d you rather have: Matt Moore or Brock Osweiler? ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Non-Dolphins fans: Is your team’s starting quarterback better than Matt Moore?

According to Clyde Christensen, Miami’s offensive coordinator, Moore has the tools to start for about a third of the teams in the league.

Christensen said he thinks Moore could start for five to 10 NFL teams, “given the right circumstances.”

“He could start for an awful lot of teams,” Christensen continued. “We think of him as a starter. We don’t miss a beat when he goes in there.”

Now, 10 teams is a big number. Depending on who’s ranking, the list could include players such as Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor and Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz and even New York’s Eli Manning.

But you don’t think the Jets (who presumably will start Josh McCown this year, but who knows), the Texans (Tom Savage or DeShaun Watson), Jaguars (Blake Bortles), the Browns (Brock Osweiler) or the Bears (Mike Glennon) would feel better about their 2017 chances if Moore was under center?

Moore, to his credit, wouldn’t take the bait Tuesday.

“I think it's natural to have thoughts that you're capable of playing in this league,” Moore said. “But I'm happy with where I'm at. I'm in a great spot. I love my teammates and my coaches. I'm here, trying to win ballgames.”

And he’s here on a bargain. He’s in the final season of a two-year, $3.6 million contract. His 2017 cap number ($2.2 million) is 39th among all NFL quarterbacks, and he earns less than the likes of Colt McCoy, Derek Anderson and even Chad Henne.

But there were only 12 quarterbacks playing after the first weekend in January last year, and Moore was one of them.

After taking over for an injured Ryan Tannehill late in the Cardinals game — Tannehill, by the way, “looks fantastic,” Moore said — Moore completed 63 percent of his passes for eight touchdowns and led the Dolphins to three December wins.

“He wins games in the rain, he wins games throwing touchdowns on Cover-Zero, all of the things that if you have a lesser backup, they just don't do,” Christensen said. “That stuff just comes up and it's hard to do. Really glad we have him. ... He was exceptional last year.”

Moore, now two months shy of his 33rd birthday, doesn’t seem keen on leaving anytime soon. And it’s hard to blame him. He enjoys playing with Ryan Tannehill and for Adam Gase. And he could be a backup for at least another five years, assuming his physical skills don’t decline. The only reason he might leave is if a team throws money and a chance to start at him next offseason.

Those thoughts were far from his mind Tuesday, however. Instead he was focused on not only getting back to the playoffs, but actually making some noise there.

“It's tough to swallow,” Moore said of Miami’s 30-12 loss to Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round. “You get to the dance, as they say, and you have an opportunity, and to have some plays go the way they went in that game is hard. If you're kind of a man in this league, you'll look at it and learn from it and get better.”

One snap of the game he’s seen too many times to count: The hellacious hit to the head he took from Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree.

Moore, despite needing several minutes to get up, missed just one snap. That got the NFL’s attention, and the league investigated whether the Dolphins and the independent neurologist followed the concussion protocol.

The NFL’s conclusion: the rule wasn’t strictly followed, because while Moore did not experience concussion symptoms, he was bleeding from the mouth and should have been taken to the locker room for further evaluation.

“I bit my tongue,” Moore said, explaining the blood. “It looked bad. It was bad, but it looked worse than it was."

He added: “I got hit really hard. I knew in my head I was fine.”

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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