DAVIE — The most telling thing Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Matt Moore said on Wednesday is this: “Call it and I’ll make it work.”
Moore hasn’t started a game since 2011.
Moore has completed this many passes in the past five seasons: 3, 1, 2, 2, 11.
Moore has started this many games since 2011: 0, 0, 0, 0, 0.
And yet, somehow, Moore and the coaches and the players seem to have surpreme confidence in this laid-back, 32-year-old Californian, as he gears up for an important start — the most important of his 10 NFL seasons?
“It’s the next start,” Moore said with a grin.
The Dolphins believe Moore, their “gunslinger,” will find a way to make it work.
It was strange to see a quarterback not wearing number 17 take the first snaps at Dolphins practice Wednesday. It was strange seeing a quarterback who arrived this week — T.J. Yates, the new backup — taking snaps, as well.
Gase says he feels confident in Moore because the veteran knows what to do.
Moore showed that to coaches last Sunday, leading the game-winning drive.
“He knew where to go with the ball,” Gase said. “He made plays, especially in a critical situation and adverse conditions. That was not an easy situation.”
Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen felt it was important the team re-sign Moore this offseason.
“He doesn’t play scared,” Christensen said. “He doesn’t play hesitant. I like the way guys respond to him. He’s one of those guys that’s kind of a Pied Piper in the locker room that guys are attracted to and that guys enjoy being around, and he’s a live wire. He’s not unlike our head coach.”
Part of the narrative of the Gase-Ryan Tannehill relationship is that Tannehill was a bit uptight and Gase helped turn the fifth-year quarterback into more of a “swashbuckler” to borrow a phrase from Christensen.
Moore hasn’t thrown an NFL touchdown since 2012, but he’s supremely swashbuckled.
“He’s a cut-it-loose and let’s go try and win a football game guy,” Christensen said. “I don’t see any chance that he’s not ready to play this football game and go throw himself around a little bit and try to win a game up in New York.”
With Moore needing to shed some more rust, common sense would dictate the Dolphins may lean more on Jay Ajayi in the final three games of the season.
But wide receiver Jarvis Landry feels Miami’s diverse offensive approach does not have to change.
“There are no limitations,” Landry said.
One key will be Moore limiting turnovers.
When Moore was the Dolphins’ MVP – yes, MVP — in 2011, he still had 14 fumbles in 13 games. Moore also had nine interceptions.
“When you’re young, you’re aggressive,” Gase said. “You want to make the big play. You want to make the impact play. Sometimes the older you get, the more you realize sometimes checking it downs isn’t the worst thing in the world.”
The gunslinger, check down?
We’ll believe it when we see it.
The Dolphins felt Moore looked comfortable in his first practice as a starter. Keep in mind, it’s a short week for the Dolphins, with the Jets game Saturday night.
And Moore’s son, Wyatt, was born on Monday.
And veteran center Mike Pouncey won’t be in the lineup.
And now it’s uncertain if or when Tannehill (sprained knee) will return.
“One game,” Moore said.
The thing the Dolphins are most pleased with is that Moore has stayed focused, mentally prepared, even taken extra throws with his receivers outside of practice.
And now, the opportunity.
Perhaps the biggest opportunity of Moore’s life.
He has a strong group of skill players around him, a well-respected play-caller and the chance to guide his team into the NFL playoffs.
Gase said the team is in on “unchartered waters” with a quarterback who’s barely played since 2011.
But he expects good things to happen. He always does. And so does Moore.
“I think I was just always ready,” Moore said.