There’s no longer any doubt about what Matt Moore brings to the Miami Dolphins practically every time he plays.
Whether he plays well or not it’s undisputed he brings spark to his team, specifically to his offense. I’ve written about it numerous times such as here and contrasted it to the way too cool personality the offense seems to adopt when Jay Cutler is the quarterback.
(By the way folks, I remind you what I’ve written in the past because this blog has hundreds of thousands of readers but not everyone hangs out here every day for the multiple updates or the exchange of ideas in the comments section. So if you’re noticing I remind folks what’s been written, it’s so the average reader who might’ve missed something can catch up.)
Anyway, on Monday after it became clear Moore is the Dolphins new starter while Jay Cutler is nursing his cracked ribs, the topic was raised of how the new starting quarterback often brings that spark to the team. And players admitted it was absolutely the case.
Matt Moore infuses the team with electricity.
“Matt just comes in with a different level,” offensive lineman Ja’Wuan James said. “I don’t know if (it is) energy or presence because he’s a second quarterback, so he knows he has to bring that. I feel like he does a good job of getting everybody to where they need to go and getting a boost of confidence to everybody, just by how he is.”
So Moore gives his teammates a boost of confidence. How does he do this?
“Like I said, how he carries himself, how he makes you feel empowered,” James said. “He throws confidence in the huddle to guys. The energy he brings and really his confidence spreads to everybody else.
“Anything can happen when Matt is out there. He’s going to throw the ball downfield and give somebody a chance. He’s going to put you in the right situations. As o-lineman, and I think everybody in that huddle, appreciates that.”
This isn’t necessarily about how Moore plays. This is also about who Moore is. His personality affects other people positively. And it shows in how people around him react.
“Matt is a fiery guy. He loves to have fun,” receiver Kenny Stills said. “He has been doing this thing for a long time. He’s still the guy in here every day that’s talking trash. Every time you see him throw a good ball, he’s screaming, ‘Dimer!’ or doing the shots fired (pose). He really just enjoys his job. He loves being here.
“That kind of just ... It spreads to everyone else on the team. We go out there and we have fun. We know he’s going to give us an opportunity to go make plays as a receiving corps. We know he’s going to be prepared to help us win the game.”
Coach Adam Gase also seems to agree the Dolphins often play with more energy when Moore is in the game. But here’s my problem:
The coach, who I have great respect for, seems to believe that palpable energy is generated in other players because Moore is a backup quarterback and the team feels it needs to step up to help the backup after the starting quarterback goes out.
“I think anytime you’re the backup quarterback and you go in there, there’s a sense of urgency increase,” Gase said. “I’ve noticed that the last two years, going back to the Arizona game (in 2016) and then this last game...Guys realize the position he gets thrust into. You’ve got to do a great job and everybody has to execute at an extremely high level because there’s not much margin for error.”
So, again, Gase believes the infusion of energy and the added life is because of players not named Moore. Gase repeated this sentiment after the game ...
“Any time your backup quarterback goes in, you know he hasn’t had any reps all week,” the coach said. “Guys know they have to be on it. They have to be exactly where they’re supposed to be, because he’s really going off of almost pictures and what he sees on film. There’s no margin for anybody else to really make any error, because that’s going to put him in a really bad spot. I think guys really dialed in.”
Two things here:
Jay Cutler is not the Dolphins first-string quarterback. He replaced Ryan Tannehill when the real starter blew out his knee in August.
And when Cutler, the backup plan, came to town and was thrown into a tough situation, the other guys didn’t feel like “they have to be on it.” Indeed, the Dolphins spent weeks and weeks, well into the regular season, making one mental mistake after another on offense.
So that theory of guys rallying for the backup just because he’s the backup either is disproved or Cutler simply didn’t inspire the rally to his side that backup quarterbacks typically do, as Gase said.
That dismissed, let’s address the gorilla in the room:
Folks, it’s not about other guys picking it up on behalf of the backup. I’ve seen teams forced to go to their backup many times and the floppage that ensues is embarrassing. Backups are not energy infusing machines just because they’re backups.
Ray Lucas was a backup.
John Beck was a backup.
Chad Henne was a backup when Chad Pennington went down in 2009.
How’d that all work out?
This is a case of guys rallying to Matt Moore because he inspires such behavior. Simple as that.
He has a special gift of being able to fire up other people. It’s there when he comes in a game cold off the bench. It’s been there when he starts the game, as he did in three starts last year.
Whatever Moore’s flaws are, let’s just give him that nod because it’s obvious.
The head coach sees it. So why can’t he just say it’s something Moore brings instead of giving the credit to the other players?
Could it be because it’s something Cutler doesn’t bring and the comparison to Moore would be uncomfortable?
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero