The word out of Miami is that there will be no quarterback controversy whenever it is that Jay Cutler returns from the rib injury he suffered during the Dolphins victory over the Jets last Sunday.
Whether that’s next week, the week after or the week after that, Cutler will go back under center just as soon as he’s capable and Matt Moore will go back to carrying a clipboard on the sidelines.
That’s how the Dolphins want it apparently. At the very least, that seems to be how coach Adam Gase wants it. Cutler is his quarterback and Gase is not going to allow Cutler to lose his job because of an injury.
That’s fair to Cutler, but it’s not necessarily fair to Moore and it’s certainly not fair to the Dolphins.
The last time anyone checked, football was a meritocracy, a system whereby the selection of a starter at any given position is based on talent and achievement. And in most cases a player’s most recent achievements.
That’s how Cutler got the starter’s job in the first place. No one can argue that between he and Moore, Cutler is the more talented of the two and certainly he has a much longer list of achievements.
The problem is that Cutler hasn’t really achieved all that much with the Dolphins. In fact, he’s achieved so little that you have to wonder if he can still lay claim to being the more talented of the two.
When Cutler went down on Sunday he had a passer rating of 78.8 for the year and was ranked 30th overall in passing yards, just ahead of DeShone Kizer of the Browns and Mike Glennon of the Bears.
And that was after he’d had what was easily his best day of the year, completing 12-of-16 passes for 138 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for a single-game passer rating of 114.1.
Now, it’s possible the Dolphins believe that, as those numbers suggest, Cutler was just beginning to round into form when he went down and that he and they are both just victims of terrible timing.
That would somewhat justify their apparently agreed-to plan to stick with Cutler as their starter no matter what, once he comes back. But again, that doesn’t take into account Moore’s achievement.
It was Moore, after all, who guided the Dolphins’ comeback from a 28-14 third-quarter deficit by completing 13-of-21 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns.
Yes, it was also Moore who dug the hole the Dolphins had to climb out of a little deeper by throwing the pick that set up the Jets final score, but remember, Moore came into that game cold.
Like most backup quarterbacks, he’d spent the week getting no practice reps, so you can forgive him for one errant throw, especially on a day in which he moved the offense better than Cutler had all season.
And that’s the point. Look, there was a vibe on the offensive side of the ball with Moore under center on Sunday that the Dolphins simply have not had with Cutler under center this year.
The whole unit seemed to be in a greater rhythm. It seemed to move more fluidly and more effectively. Shoot, The Dolphins even threw the ball downfield more. Sort of like it did last year when Moore replaced Ryan Tannehill.
All Moore did then was finish off the Dolphins run to the playoffs and who knows, had he won there, then the Dolphins might have never called in Cutler in the first place after Tannehill went down again.
The point here is that Moore has a list of achievements, too, and while it may not be as long as Cutler’s it warrants Moore getting a fair shake now that he has to play the role of savior again.
Who knows, three weeks from now the fans that were chanting Moore’s name and asking for Cutler’s head may be chanting for Cutler and asking for Moore’s head. Fans can be fickle that way.
But shouldn’t the Dolphins wait until Moore has run the offense for a week or two before determining who their starter is going to be for the stretch run? After all, that’s how it’s usually done in a meritocracy.
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