There is no Miami Dolphins quarterback controversy. Not this week anyway.
Matt Moore, who led a frantic and fantastic rally against the New York Jets on Sunday, will be Miami’s starting quarterback against the Baltimore Ravens when the teams play Thursday night in Charm City.
That’s because Jay Cutler, who left the 31-28 victory over the Jets in the third quarter, isn’t going to be ready to play by Thursday no matter what an MRI Sunday evening reveals. The team believes he suffered cracked ribs in the game and will be out at least one week and possibly more.
So for the time being ... zero quarterback controversy.
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Moore is the guy.
But because Cutler, who might miss a couple of games with his chest injury, is not out for the season, then what the Dolphins do beyond Thursday is a question they will have to answer.
And that’s what is fascinating about the Dolphins and their quarterback job today.
On the one hand you have Jay Cutler, who coach Adam Gase is loyal to and feels strongly about. He played well on Sunday. Yes, his team was losing but when Cutler left, he had thrown two touchdown passes and had a 114.1 quarterback rating.
So his days as Miami’s starter aren’t done by any stretch. Chances are when he’s healthy he’ll remain the starter.
Moore cannot be dismissed. He cannot be forgotten. He cannot be stuck in the backup QB niche to be seen only when the starter is unavailable.
Anyone who saw Moore’s work against the Jets realizes that.
Moore completed 13 of 21 passes for 188 yards with two touchdowns. Yes, he also had an interception but his quarterback rating was an impressive 102.9. This was a performance that harkened back to last year’s work in which Moore took over for an injured Ryan Tannehill and helped the team complete a run to the playoffs.
But Moore’s work was more than just about statistics and results.
It’s about how things feel when he’s in the game. It’s about how the players around him seem to tighten ranks.
That was palpable to anyone watching this game. The Dolphins seemed to play with more urgency. They seemed to have a spark. Moore seemed to get other guys to play faster.
Gase saw it too but he believes teammates were rallying around Moore merely because they wanted to make up for the loss of their starter.
“It’s one of those things when you know a guy goes down, other guys step up,” Gase said. “The great thing about Matt is that he’s a veteran. We’ve done this before. He has a knack for going out there and playing the game without fear. He prepares the right way. He does everything right during the week to allow him to play like that. He just knows when his number is called, he’s got to go out there and pick up right where we were going.”
Read that comment carefully. It suggests Gase believes the Dolphins would have won this game had Cutler stayed in the game. The Dolphins would have gone “where we were going.”
Maybe so. Maybe not. We won’t know.
But we’re going to find out if the Dolphins are right because Moore is no longer stepping in for Cutler. He’s the starter this week. This is his offense now.
And this is where I pose a question that will make the Dolphins cringe: What if Moore keeps doing what he did Sunday?
What if he continues to light a fire under this offense? Under this team?
Is Gase, as committed to Cutler as he is, going to remove a successful Moore for his guy Cutler? Or will he stay with the hot quarterback?
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Moore said. “Those are decisions to be made and they’re out of my hands.”
You have to appreciate Moore’s approach. He got exactly zero first-team practice snaps last week. He gets zero first-team snaps every week and is still expected to play like a champion when he gets his chance.
“I come to work every day and do my job, whatever my job is,” he said. “I’m a big believer that every person on the team has a role and I’ve said that before. Whatever the circumstances are, my role was defined whenever it was and that’s how I came to work every day. I kind of just said, ‘You’re going to be the backup and prepare and that’s my job.’ “
The job now? Matt Moore is the Dolphins starting quarterback.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero