Might Moore be QB keeper for Dolphins?
DAVIE, Fla. (AP)
And Dolphins fans are resigned to the reality there will never be another Marino.
Moore's the 16th starting quarterback for Miami since Marino retired, and after playing just seven games, he already ranks among the best. That's not saying much, but lately he has been making a strong case as a long-term solution at the position.
After the Dolphins' 0-7 start, Moore has led them to three consecutive victories, including a 35-8 drubbing of Buffalo on Sunday. In those wins he has six touchdown passes and one interception while completing 71 percent of his throws and averaging 8.5 yards per attempt.
''Matt has done a tremendous job,'' coach Tony Sparano said Monday. ''It's all about what you do with your opportunities in our league. As of right now, he's doing a nice job with his opportunity.''
''He's a huge, huge difference-maker - the reason we've been successful these past few games,'' teammate Reggie Bush said.
Only four NFL teams have longer winning streaks as the Dolphins (3-7) prepare to face Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. The Dolphins appeared unworthy of a national TV audience less than a month ago, but the midseason turnaround has made them worth watching.
They've outscored the past three opponents 86-20.
''It feels great, man,'' center Mike Pouncey said. ''We could have easily given up on our season, but this team stayed focused, and we believed in our coaches, believed in ourselves and wanted to win.''
A soft stretch in the schedule helped. None of the teams Miami beat has a winning record. And defense has been a big factor in the revival: The Dolphins haven't given up a touchdown this month.
But the offense is undeniably improved, making a transition into an efficient, opportunistic unit after being awful in the red zone and on third down through the first seven games.
As with blame when a team's sputtering, credit starts with the quarterback.
''Matt's just playing lights out,'' Bush said. ''He's playing amazing. He's throwing great balls. He's a leader. He's poised. He is everything you need.''
Moore has displayed a strong arm, as his deep pass to Charles Clay for a 46-yard gain against Buffalo showed. While his accuracy draws criticism, he has lobbed several completions into tight coverage a la Pennington.
Also like Pennington, Moore keeps his poised when receivers are slow to get open, such as on Sunday when he moved enough in a collapsing pocket to buy extra time before completing a third-down pass to Clay.
''Those are the things that he has been able to do that have been productive,'' Sparano said. ''They don't look pretty, but they're winner plays.''
Undrafted out of Oregon State, Moore went 10-13 as a starter in three seasons with Carolina. He played well in 2009 but flunked when given a shot at the Panthers' No. 1 job last year.
Moore signed as Miami's backup at the beginning of this year's training camp and became the starter when Chad Henne was sidelined in Week 4 by a season-ending shoulder injury.
The Dolphins' winless record through seven games prompted projections that their next quarterback might be Andrew Luck. Now they're fading from contention for the Stanford quarterback, but if they keep winning with Moore, the need to use a first-round draft pick on a QB next year will ease.
Moore, who's under contract through 2012, declined to speculate on his future.
''I just want to keep playing well and winning,'' he said. ''Wherever that gets me or takes me, so be it. My main focus right now is just to win games, spread the ball around, move the offense and win. That's all I care about right now.''
His tryout for a starting job next season has six games to go.