Miami Dolphins first-year head coach Joe Philbin has what will most likely be a season-affecting decision to make at the quarterback position this offseason. Philbin's choices are between newly acquired David Garrard, returning starter Matt Moore and unsigned rookie Ryan Tannehill.
It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Tannehill will get the bronze medal when this competition is decided. He has yet to sign his rookie deal and report to camp.
The real fight is between Garrard and Moore. And if you listen to the media, Garrard is expected to win the job. Philbin has tried to put that train of thought to bed.
"I know a lot has been written and there has been a lot of speculation about who is ahead, and whether this guy is behind and he's not ready, but that is news to me," explained Philbin. "We are still evaluating all quarterbacks and we'll make a decision when it becomes evident."
Who should start Week 1 is already evident to some. Dolphins center Mike Pouncey made his preference known: “Garrard has been great, has been the main guy running with the first team," opined Pouncey. "He brings leadership. Matt Moore did a good job last year but when Garrard is in, it’s a whole different tempo.”
Pouncey's opinion aside, the Dolphins would be better served with Moore under center.
Miami started off the season without winning a single game until November. The team went 0-7. Matt Moore took the reins of the offense following the Week 5 bye and led the the Dolphins to a 6-6 record from Week 6 on.
During that 12 week span, Moore amassed 2,497 passing yards and 16 touchdowns with 9 interceptions. Moore ranked 12th among all quarterbacks with a 87.1 passer rating by season's end.
Whether Moore gets the opportunity to improve on those stats remains to be seen. Philbin has stated that a decision on who will be his starting quarterback for the 2012-13 season will not be made until after the third preseason game on August 24 against the Atlanta Falcons.
So the fact that Moore took the first snap with the first-team offense to begin training camp is irrelevant. What is relevant is their performance over the long haul of training camp. And with Moore's track record of having underwhelming practice performances, Garrard may be calling the shots against the Houston Texans come Week 1 of the regular season.
Moore acknowledges as much.
“There is a little truth to that,” Moore said. “I’ve been trying to get better year by year in practice, but does it really matter what I do in practice? I’d like to think that what happens in games matters most.”
So if Philbin pays closer attention to what happens during the preseason games this offseason instead of practice, Moore may win the job. We doubt it.
Head coaches have to make decisions for Sundays based on what they see all the other days. And the last thing a head coach wants to do is hope that his quarterback will be ready on Sunday. Instead, a coach will be more comfortable starting a quarterback who shows all week that he can make the reads and throws and can take command of the offense. If Moore is unable to demonstrate those attributes in practice, then Garrard will trot out onto Reliant Stadium field on September 9th.