Tha Sports Junkies 101

Can Matt Moore Lead Miami Past The Ravens?

moore lead miami Kevin Coleman via Flickr


Can Matt Moore Lead Miami To Victory?

Acting as the Dolphins’ starting quarterback since 2011, Matt Moore is dubbed as one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL. It showed last Sunday when Moore came in cold off the bench to replace starter Jay Cutler, who suffered broken ribs in the third quarter. Walking into a one-score deficit, Moore went to work, and the offense exploded for 17 points in the fourth quarter. But, can Moore lead Miami to a tough road win?

“He’s a fireball,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said following Tuesday’s practice.

“Matt is a fiery guy,” wide receiver Kenny Stills said.

This team respects Moore, and they know he can win them a game. He is in every sense of the word, a gunslinger. Makes quick decisions, pushes the ball down the field, and he trusts his receivers. Make no mistake, he knows exactly what he is, but that is okay with him.

“It’s not a bad term…I like to think of it as somebody who goes out and competes and throws the ball around,” he said. “That’s what it means to me.” Moore Said.

Moore finished 2-2 as a starter last year but faltered in the playoffs.

Can He Handle The Big Stage?

The only question is, can he lead this team through three crucial, prime time games? The Dolphins travel to Baltimore on Thursday night, come home for a Sunday night matchup versus the Raiders, and then travel to Carolina for Monday Night Football. Jay Cutler could be out for three, maybe four games. That is three straight big stages,

Adam Gase and company will let him sling it, but the veteran backup needs to make his reads. Last week, Moore tossed an interception down the seam with a high safety lurking. Little things like looking off safeties, baiting corners, and calling audibles are things he must fix on the fly. The Ravens have a history of playing Miami tough and are always a physical matchup nobody looks forward to playing. The Dolphins need to get the running game going against a struggling Raven’s rush defense to set up play action. If Jay Ajayi gets going, the offense will thrive. Moore is best when he can work off play-action and open single coverage for his receivers. Look for Adam Gase to get creative with Moore, and pull some tricks out of his hat, especially with Moore’s athleticism.

Offensive Line Must Improve

As mentioned earlier, the Ravens always come to play against Miami, especially in the trenches. Baltimore is famous for their gusty, tough trench play from their lineman. If the entire Miami offensive front were healthy, it would be an almost even match up. Unfortunately, four offensive linemen will be facing battle wounds. Laremy Tunsil (LT), Anthony Steen (LG), Mike Pouncey (C), and Ja’Wuan James (RT) are all dealing with lingering injuries. Steen will not play due to a toe injury, and Tunsil is questionable with a knee problem. Mike Pouncey and Ja’Wuan James are both limited, which is less than ideal. The only healthy lineman is right guard Jermon Bushrod, who struggles the most out of the five. With all these injuries piling up, it could be a long night for Matt Moore.

Even when they are healthy, the pass blocking has been abysmal this season. Even against inferior defensive fronts, this unit looks worse than last season (cough Branden Albert). Factor in lackluster running lanes for Jay Ajayi and the overall effort leaves a lot to be desired. Jay Cutler’s injury was a result of this, as was Ryan Tannehill’s last season. As I said before the Jets game, Miami needs to get their zone rushing going, counters, stay in the shotgun and cater to the strength of your quarterback, and let Moore lead Miami down the field.

Bottom Line

Once again, Miami is walking into a game that they should win. Can Matt Moore lead Miami this season? Maybe, maybe not. If the offense around him does not implode, he does not need to be their savior. The Baltimore defense currently ranks 21st in total yards given up, which bodes well for a backup quarterback. However, the Ravens secondary is playing very well, only allowing 189 pass yards and 21 points per game. Interestingly, their rushing defense is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. Baltimore is dead last in the NFL allowing 145 yards per game on the ground, and Jay Ajayi is salivating at those numbers.

Joe Flacco has struggled to score points, and that will probably continue against a fast Miami defense. Five out of seven of Flacco’s top targets are out, or questionable. Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin, and Breshad Perriman all will most likely not see any playing time. That is good news for a secondary looking for a rebound week in prime time, coming off a lousy performance against New York. Look for Adam Gase to get some creative play calls in early, and hand it to Jay Ajayi at least 25 times. If Miami stays in character and doesn’t falter on the big stage, they can elevate themselves to contenders at 5-2.


Prediction: Dolphins 27, Ravens 20