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.