MIAMI GARDENS — Matt Moore was the starting quarterback of the Miami Dolphins, at least for this one scrimmage on a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium.
This may all change, of course, in the next 24 or 48 hours, if Ryan Tannehill elects to have season-ending surgery and Jay Cutler agrees to bypass broadcasting to don the aqua and orange.
But for this day, Moore could talk about his touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry. And splendid over-the-shoulder connection with Landry. And about all the weapons that would — key phrase would — be available to him if he were to remain the starting quarterback this season.
“It’s awesome,” Moore said. “We have a good thing going. We have a good core of guys. The receiving room is really, really taking strides. Kenny (Stills) and DeVante (Parker) and Juice (Landry) and the running backs and tight ends. I think if we can get on the same page and execute and overcome adversity we’ll be all right.”
A few minutes earlier, a few strides away in the grass, coach Adam Gase had conceded with candor he’s asked Cutler if he’d be interested in playing for the Dolphins.
Cutler said yes.
This, of course, is not ideal news for Moore, who flourished down the stretch for Miami last season, and who at least a portion of the locker room would like to see given the full-time job if Tannehill cannot return.
“That’s how it’s been,” Moore said of the concept that he won’t be handed anything (presumably except a chance to compete). “This league is built that way. My career has shaped up that way. I’m focused in on what I can do and how I can get better. And not worrying really about anything else.”
Moore tapped his right leg anxiously and repeatedly with the autograph marker in his right hand.
Moore knew there would be many questions about Cutler, and he answered each one.
Haven’t you done enough to be the guy?
“I am focused on myself and the guys that are here now,” Moore said. “I was just saying I’m on a day to day deal. Today was a challenge. Tomorrow I’m going to review it. And I’m going to get better. That’s where my head’s at right now.”
But to have a concede or battle to an outsider?
“Last year is last year, man,” Moore said. “Again, guys. We’re in training camp. There are so many things that I’m focused on. And all the outside noise is really not it.”
Moore was intercepted by Xavien Howard for a touchdown return on his first pass of the scrimmage.
But Moore finished (unofficially) 5-for-6 for 66 yards with one touchdown, to Jarvis Landry.
“I thought offensively we bounced back,” Moore said. “Obviously, X (Howard) made a good play early on. It was nice to come out again and put a nice drive together and end with a touchdown.”
Moore has likely dreamed about what he believes he could do given the keys to this offense.
Moore feels he and Gase, the play-caller are simpatico at the moment.
“He is funny, man,” the laid-back Moore said. “(Gase) can get in the zone like a player. He gets in a zone with play calls. And you know when that’s happening because he’s hitting on a lot of stuff. And so I’m looking forward to that. We got into a rhythm last year. When he’s feeling it, it makes it really easy on the quarterback and everybody out there. He’s got a real talent for that. Just continuing our growth together.”
Whether that growth is as a starter or a backup remains to be seen.
And if Cutler is brought in, whether he has a chance to compete still for the starting job, remains to be seen.
On this Saturday afternoon, Moore could reflect on what it’s like to be the man throwing to Landry.
“It was man coverage so it’s 1-on-1,” Moore said of a sideline completion. “As a wide receiver you’re praying for that. You believe in your abilities and Jarvis obviously he loves those situations. I knew I had him 1-on-1 and he really made a move and beat the guy. I probably could have put the ball in a little better spot. But it was a great catch. Any time he’s 1-on-1 I think it’s a disaster for defenses.”
Of course Moore would like the opportunity to start for the Dolphins in 2017.
Of course Moore believes he would flourish and thrive.
But Moore knows Cutler – or another quarterback — is coming quickly.
And for him, being a good teammate seems as important as being the starter.
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