Before the 2011 season, the Miami Dolphins appeared to be the odds-on favorite in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.
After seven games, the Dolphins’ 0-7 start all but guaranteed they would finish with one of the top three picks in the NFL draft, putting them in prime position to draft either Luck or another highly successful college quarterback – Matt Barkley, Landry Jones, and Robert Griffin III are some of the prime candidates.
And then Matt Moore helped turn the season around. The castoff from the Carolina Panthers has played extremely well in the last five weeks. He’s thrown eight touchdowns to just one interception, and led the Dolphins to a 4-1 record. The team’s only loss was a one-point loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.
What is more impressive is that Moore wasn’t even expected to play in Miami. He was signed to a two-year deal in the offseason to serve as a backup to Chad Henne. When Henne went down with a season-ending shoulder injury, the job was up to Moore, and he appeared to be a lame duck for the Dolphins.
Moore struggled initially, throwing throwing no touchdowns and three interceptions in his first two starts. He slowly began to find his form, and even was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week in a 31-3 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
As it stands, Moore’s numbers are solid: 61.9 completion percentage, 7.25 yards per attempt, 9 TD, 5 INT, and a 87.6 passer rating. The passer rating puts Moore 10th in the league among quarterbacks, ahead of names such as Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Michael Vick.
Of course, whether or not Moore can sustain this success is the big question. Moore was a flash in the pan down the stretch for the Panthers in ’09, throwing eight touchdowns to no interceptions in his final four starts. That didn’t carry over to 2010 though, as Moore struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness all season, finishing with a dismal five touchdowns to 10 picks.
If the Dolphins can pick a quarterback, they should do it. Moore likely isn’t the guy for the future, and Henne’s contract expires after 2011, making him a free agent. Barkley, Jones, or Griffin would be a great player to build the team around. After all, the Dolphins have been one of the league’s better teams since their awful start, and they could even make a surprise playoff run in 2012.
If the Dolphins don’t get a quarterback though, Moore is at least a solid option for at least one more year. He’s proven he’s capable of holding down the job, and he seems to be improving on a weekly basis. And if he does well enough next year, the Dolphins – or another team in need of a quarterback – may sign him to a long-term contract.