Oftentimes, the importance of having a backup quarterback is overlooked in the NFL. Having a viable backup can make the difference between the end of a season, or a final push for a playoff berth, which was the case last season when starter Ryan Tannehill went down with a season-ending knee injury.
With the team's playoff hopes on the line, backup Matt Moore stepped in and held down the fort, helping the Miami Dolphins finish the season 3-1 in the last three games of the season, before finally being brought down by the revitalized Steelers in the playoffs.
But if it hadn't been for Moore, the team would not have even made it that far after Tannehill's injury, making it clear how important Moore is to the franchise.
"(He’s) very important (and) why the organization went after him last year and why he makes a good living." offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said on Tuesday. "There are so few of them. They’re hard. You may not use them. We learned it the hard way at Indy that you don’t need them until you need them. It doesn’t catch up with you until it catches up with you, and then it’s too late.
"He was what we thought. He played extremely well. He got us into the playoffs. That could have been a disaster. That’s where you’ve seen a lot of teams and all of a sudden their guy goes down and you lose five straight (even though) you were right there with a playoff opportunity and you don’t get it. That was really big for us. I think the team has confidence in him."
That confidence showed as the team rallied around him instead of losing hope after the loss of Tannehill, and it proved that Moore, even as he prepares to turn 33, could still be a viable starter in the league on a lot of teams, which Christensen admits.
"All of a sudden, without many reps, (he) comes in and slings it around and (he) won some huge games." he said. "He wins games in the rain, he wins games throwing touchdowns on Cover Zero. All of the things that all of a sudden if you had a lesser backup, they just don’t do. That stuff comes up and it’s hard to do. I’m really glad we have him. I do think he could start for 5-10 teams. Sure. Given the right circumstances, he could start for an awful lot of teams. We think of him as a starter, that we don’t miss a beat when he goes in there."
But what does Moore himself think about his potential as a starter and his status with the Dolphins?
“I think it’s natural to have thoughts that you’re capable to play in this league; but I’m happy where I’m at." Moore said. "I’m in a great spot. I love my teammates and my coaches and I’m here trying to win ball games.”
Moore is entering the final year of a two-year contract, and he's slotted to make over $3.5 million in 2017. Amidst all the drama with Tony Romo, Jay Cutler and Colin Kaepernick, Moore is happily slotted as the team's backup, and if push comes to shove, he will gladly step in and help the Dolphins push for the playoffs once more, much like Earl Morrall did back during the 1972 season when Bob Griese went down, and Miami achieved perfection.
Miami is lucky to have Matt Moore, and Moore is more than happy to provide his services as a backup despite his potential as a starter, a luxury that very few NFL teams can boast they have.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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