For the past five-years on the NFL sidelines Matt Moore has been among the elite clipboard holders in the game. If the head coach turns to the left Moore’s there, a side step to the right and Moore’s next to him. But tonight at Met Life Stadium Moore will ditch his post next to Adam Gase for the spot behind center, making his first start since 2011.
“I’ve done this before, just trying to jump in and not let these guys miss a beat,” said Moore earlier this week.
Missing a beat, could mean missing the playoffs for the Dolphins. Currently sitting tied with Denver for the final spot of the Wild Card, a victory tonight is vital against the rival Jets.
“(Moore’s) been preparing every week just being ready to go, which probably isn’t the easiest thing to do considering the guy who was starting hadn’t missed a game,” said Gase. “(Moore’s) done a good job in staying right with the offense, that’s why he was able to go in last week and perform the way he did.”
With Ryan Tannehill on the mend from an ACL and MCL injury suffered Sunday, this is Moore’s offense for now, which will also be without offensive line leader C Mike Pouncey for the remainder of the season. Tannehill told me in earlier in the season “Pouncey is the quarterback of the line, always getting guys in the right position.”
With a backup battery of C Anthony Steen and Moore the rest of the way, it will be important for running back Jay Ajayi to break out of his century mark drought.
“I think this team has been really resilient, whoever goes in there just has to get the job done,” said offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen Thursday. “That’s the nature of this league, that’s why you have to do a great job personnel-wise.”
The Jets know the effects of the personnel revolving door, as QB Bryce Petty will make just his third NFL start. Petty led the rally for the OT win at San Francisco last week and will expect to get help from his number one target Brandon Marshall, who is never at a loss for words. This week Marshall threw shade at how Dolphins CB Byron Maxwell shadows the wideout. Marshall complained Maxwell held him on numerous occasions in the Dolphins 27-23 win in Week 9.
“I’ll be carrying my own flag just in case he decides to conduct himself the same way,” said Marshall, as he held up a flag to the media. “So I will help the refs out, but I thought they did a tremendous job the last time we played them.”
You hope the refs don’t make that big of an influence on a game this important to the Dolphins season. With a road game in frigid Buffalo next week and a showdown with the AFC leading Patriots to close out the regular season, this is do or die stuff starting tonight for Miami’s playoff livelihood.
A postseason opportunity few expected earlier in the year when they started 1-4, but one that resides in the grasp of their backup quarterback.
“I just try to stay ready for a situation like this and here we are,” said Moore.
And here too, are the Dolphins. Let’s see what they have.
Looks like Tua Tagovailoa will work out for teams prior to draft
There will be numerous NFL teams interested, including the Dolphins, on just how healthy injured Alabama star Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is. And, a report on Wednesday says that Tua will likely be ready to throw for teams later in the offseason draft process.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that “NFL quarterback super-agent” Leigh Steinberg and his firm are letting teams know that Tagovailoa’s injured hip should be healed enough for him to be able to throw in early April prior to the NFL Draft at the end of the month:
From our Championship Wednesday coverage on @NFLNetwork: #Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa may throw for NFL teams during a Pro Day in mid-April, thanks to some very positive health news. pic.twitter.com/ooVJCyf0ij
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 15, 2020
This will be especially important for teams like the Dolphins, who will be selecting fifth currently in the upcoming selection process.
Tagovailoa came to Alabama from Hawaii and the same high school as Marcus Mariota, having thrown for over 8,000 yards which at that time was a Hawaii High School record. And, he had a career of 84 passing and 27 rushing touchdowns in three seasons.
Tua burst onto the scene nationally, when he relieved Jalen Hurts in the second half and overtime of Alabama’s thrilling title game win over Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship Game. Tagovailoa threw the game-winning touchdown pass on the first overtime possession, as Alabama celebrated their fifth National Title in nine seasons under Saban.
In his second season at the helm in the 2018 regular season, Tagovailoa was named second-team AP All-American and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, as the Tide reached the National Title game, again, before being beaten soundly by Clemson 12 months ago.
As this junior season unfolded, Tagovailoa was named almost became synonymous with the Dolphins, who started the season horribly at 0 – 7 and the moniker “Tank for Tua” began to gain momentum in South Florida.
However, Tagovailoa was injured in Alabama’s 10th game of the season suffering the hip injury on a sack late in the first half at Mississippi State. He missed the Tide’s final two regular-season games and their recent Citrus Bowl win over Michigan two weeks due to the injury.
Typically, players participate in some kind of individual workout or pro day, but as Rappaport relayed, most teams already know what Tagovailoa can do from his previous two seasons at Alabama. The bigger concern is his health and specifically his mobility, as he progresses through the summer and into the first NFL training camp and preseason of his career.
It is believed the Tagovailoa is the second, or at worst third rated, quarterback behind LSU Heisman Trophy winning National Championship QB Joe Burrow. Burrow is expected to be taken first overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in late April.
Who is new Dolphins defensive coordinator Josh Boyer?
On Sunday night, the Dolphins finally decided to allow first-year defensive coordinator Patrick Graham to leave and take the same position with the New York Giants. And, coach Brian Flores moved quickly to promote a member of his staff, Josh Boyer, to be his defensive play-caller
So exactly who is former New England assistant that will now be in charge Miami’s defensive unit? More on him in a moment.
First, as we wrote, Miami had wavered Saturday night and Sunday on whether to let Graham go to the Giants to be with new head coach, Joe Judge, creating an important void. Graham was only being given a “lateral move” to New York, and Miami could have continued to block him. But, in the end, Flores had someone he could trust already on staff.
That’s Boyer, who has just completed his 14th season in the NFL, all previously in New England and then, obviously, his first with the Fins after coming with Flores last February.
Boyer’s background is as a secondary coach and specifically, working with cornerbacks. He held that job for his last seven seasons in New England 2012 – 18 and was part of three Super Bowl championships under Bill Belichick.
Boyer deserves credit for helping the development of defensive backs like Malcolm Butler, who sealed Super Bowl 49 win over the Seahawks with his famous goal-line interception of Russell Wison in the final half minute of the game. Boyer also worked closely with Pro Bowlers Logan Ryan and more recently, Stephon Gilmore, who iced Super Bowl 53 win last February with a late INT against the Rams.
This past year was obviously a trying one for the Dolphins defensively, as they finished 32nd in scoring and 30th in overall in defense. But Boyer cannot be judged too much, given the cornerbacks he was working with, especially late in the year.
He had his best player, former number one pick Minkah Fitzpatrick, traded away in the first month to the Steelers. Miami also lost veteran Bobby McCain to injury later in the year and had a depleted secondary at the very end of the season.
However, Boyer (shown above with DB Eric Rowe after his week 17 pick six of Tom Brady) obviously impressed Flores and GM Chris Grier with his coaching to get the promotion.
And, he’s following a similar path as Flores, who worked his way up from secondary coach to defensive coordinator with the Pats.
Now, we’ll see if Miami can bolster their defensive backfield this off sesaon.
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