In the past 10 years, the Dolphins haven’t made much of a splash during the season and with a succession of slow starts in the Sparano era, Miami has been practically irrelevant before the regular season starts. The perpetual search for a QB lands Miami on Sports Center for all the wrong reasons during off-season. The pundits place Miami in the mix for every possible free agent or draft worthy QB.
All the while, Matt Moore watches and wonders why his own team disregards his play in the last 9 games of 2010. Moore is no stranger to adversity, and ignoring his history is a mistake in Miami. He ended his senior season in high school as one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the nation. Slated to redshirt at UCLA in 2002, he appeared in six games as a true freshman due to injuries to Cory Paus and Drew Olson.
Moore enrolled at Oregon State in January 2005 and participated in spring training with the team. Head coach Mike Riley announced him as the starter entering the 2005 season. Moore injured his right knee in the second quarter of the 10th game of the season against Stanford and missed the remainder of the year. Not before throwing a 63-yard touchdown strike against Washington State that gave OSU a 37–33 victory after the team trailed 30–13 late in the second quarter and a 58-yard TD pass to upset No. 18 Cal.
The 2006 10-win Beavers season was capped off by a Sun Bowl victory against Missouri. The season included a win over #3 ranked USC and an Oregon State record for consecutive pass attempts without an interception with 183. He was named MVP of the Sun Bowl after throwing for 356 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for one touchdown. A 5-for-7, 55-yard game winning drive, highlighted by a 2-point conversion put the Beavers up 39–38 with 22 seconds remaining and led to victory.
For all of that, Moore was overlooked in the 2007 draft and was signed by Jeff Ireland as a free agent in Dallas. The Cowboys, intending to sign him to their practice squad waived him, but the Carolina Panthers sniped him off waivers. Moore played several games for the Panthers and was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month in December for those performances. In 2008, a broken fibula landed him on injured reserve, and he didn't play a single game the entire season.
After injuries to Jake Delhomme and Luke McCown in 2009, Moore led the Panthers to a 4-1 record as a starter. His performances included convincing victories against the Giants and the Saints during that stretch.
In 2010, Moore solidified himself as the starter but sustained a concussion in the 1st game of the season and never returned to form. After throwing 4 INTs in consecutive losses, Moore was replaced by Jimmy Clausen and subsequently sat out 3 consecutive games with lingering concussion symptoms. Moore returned to complete 28 passes on 41 attempts for 308 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in a victory against the 49ers. Then in a week 9 loss to the New Orleans Saints, Moore injured his shoulder and was placed on injured reserve, ending his season. The Panthers cut Moore, after John Fox was fire as the coach.
Miami fans know Moore revived a sinking ship for the Dolphins in 2011. His history is clearly one of surviving adversity though grit and passion for the game. The front office in Miami is making a mistake by disregarding Moore as a viable starter and going all in for the many unknowns in the QB derby. Moore, more than any Dolphin player showed the very folks trying to replace him that he deserves a shot to make it in this league.
Stephen Ross and Jeff Ireland summarily disregard the one person on the Dolphins squad they should be thanking for making the team less than a laughing stock in 2011. Chad Henne was never able to rally the players around him, Matt Flynn has started all of two NFL games, Peyton Manning, while once a great player, has serious injury issues and rookie QBs do not fare well in the NFL when thrown to the fire.
A classy organization would not profess they are all in for a replacement when Moore has given them every reason to believe the answer is already on the team. The right thing for the Dolphins to do would be to stand behind their QB, but they are too busy trying to make gold out of lead with retreads or rookies. Even Rex Ryan stands behind a QB with lesser skills and it is has led to two AFC championship games.
The treatment of Moore is a microcosm of what has gone wrong in Miami, from the front office, to the media, to the fans, instead of rolling up their sleeves and building a team, they flounder in a continuous search for a savior. Perhaps it’s time to get off the merry-go-round of foolish QB hunting and give a little love to the guy who has shown the true grit to lead this team and build the pieces around him.
Now all the talk is of wasting numerous draft picks or hoping a guy, one hit from paralysis will solve being a classless organization. Moore should be the guy talked about in Miami. It doesn’t mean the Dolphins don’t need to draft a QB, it means they don’t have throw away their future in an ill-fated attempt to become a Super Bowl contender overnight. Listening to jaded fans or a hypercritical media is not what leads to championships.
Building a team, growing a team, is more important than wishing for a falling star. Stop the QB talk, get back to the roots of what it takes to be a contender over the long term and stop trying to win the lottery. Matt Moore is the QB of the Miami Dolphins and until the Dolphins realize it, they will continue to be driven by off the field influences instead of looking in the lock room where TEAMS truly win or lose.