The Miami Dolphins and their quarterback battle will provide plenty of NFL rumors as we get ready for training camp. Matt Moore is battling David Garrard and there is Ryan Tannehill waiting to supplant both of them when he is ready. It is unlikely that Miami head coach Joe Philbin will allow Tannehill to start right away but he is open to the idea, making it a very interesting three-way battle.
Moore is technically the incumbent, having started 12 of Miami’s games last season and playing in 13 of them. Moore led Miami to a 6-6 record while passing for 2,497 yards, 16 TD’s and 9 INT’s. Moore wasn’t terrible but he wasn’t great either. The Dolphins signed David Garrard as a free agent on March 19, 2012 after being gone from football for a year after being cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars right before last season. Garrard took last season to recover from a herniated disc and signed with Miami because of the potential to start.
Both Moore and Garrard are placeholders. Neither is a long-term answer at quarterback for the Dolphins, regardless of whether or not one of them plays like Dan Marino this year. The future is Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins 2012 first round draft choice. However, if Tannehill wants to start this season he is going to have beat out Moore and Garrard by a wide margin.
Philbin runs a West Coast offense, something Garrard can be pretty adept at. Garrard is a smart decision maker and doesn’t do much else exceptionally well. He is the prototypical game manager, doing just enough on his side of the ball to win the game. He protects the football and that could be enough to get him the job.
Moore filled in very nicely for Chad Henne after Henne was lost to injury. Moore helped turn the Dolphins season around after they had lost their first seven games as they finished 6-10 on the year. However, despite that, Moore will be learning a new offense again and might not be the kind of guy who can excel in a West Coast-style game. At least not as a starter. Matt Moore has always been a capable backup quarterback, someone who can fill in for a short period of time and give your team a chance to win. He is kind of like a modern-day Frank Reich. Wanted as a clipboard holder, won’t give a coach agita when he is in there, but not someone you want as your bona fide starter.
The wild card in this race is Tannehill. While I don’t think Philbin will just hand him the reigns, he might allow Tannehill to win the job if he has a good enough camp and preseason. Philbin has said he won’t make a decision until after the third preseason game. However, with only 19 total starts under his belt in college, Tannehill is raw and will need some time to adjust to the pro game. The Dolphins knew that when they drafted him and nothing has changed. Could he win the job? Yes. Will he? No, but anything is possible.
The Dolphins will probably start the year with Garrard as quarterback. Garrard is a much better game manager and protects the football very well. Moore is a street-fighter who is just too, for lack of a better word, unrefined, in the passing game and game management. Without Brandon Marshall and with Brian Hartline and Davone Bess the top two returning receivers, the Dolphins passing game isn’t exactly dynamic. But Garrard has never really had a truly dynamic receiving corps and was always able to win some football games. I don’t see why he can’t do the same in Miami unless his back can’t hold up.