The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

MOORE IS LESS

After playing an excellent first half in which the defense shut the door on Tom Brady and Company en route to a 17-0 halftime score, offensive failures helped turn the momentum and enabled the Brady Bunch to steamroll over the Fins by soring 27 unanswered second-half points.  The offensive failures were largely that of QB Matt Moore who threw a key interception, had 2 fumbles and held the ball too long leading to a couple of unnecessary sacks.  The interception was especially painful given that it was caused by a severe underthrow to a very open Brian Hartline for an easy touchdown that would have put the Fins back on top, 24-17, and restored their momentum that had been lost when the Patriots erased the Fins’ lead in the first 12 minutes of the second half.    In the final analysis, the loss to the Patriots was a case of Moore is less, because the Fins’ QB is less than a true NFL first string QB. 

Matt Moore did have a good first half, buoyed by the strength of the defense which got in Tom Brady’s face and held him to a QB Rating of 51.3 in that first half.  Moore himself had an impressive 120.3 QB rating in the first half.  But while the Brady Bunch were scoring 27 unanswered points in the second half to take control of the game, Moore managed only 35 yards passing during that time, enabling the Patriots to take control of the game.  His interception and 2 fumbles (only 1 of which was lost) only fueled the Patriots’ fire. 

Of course, the defense did not help the Fins’ cause in the second half as Brady went from being 7 of 19 for 87 yards in the first half to being 20 of 27 for 217 yards in the second half.  It sure did not help that a Matt Moore fumbled exchange gave the Patriots the ball at the Fins’ 38-yard line, enabling them to get the TD that would leave them only one score behind midway into the third quarter.  By that time, momentum was solidly with the Patriots.  And the defense, which forced punts on every Patriot possession of the first half except for their final possession which ended with an unsuccessful long field goal attempt, couldn’t get New England off the field in the second half, thus allowing the Patriots to convert 50% (9 of 18) of their third and fourth downs for the day. 

Dolfans may not have Tony Sparano to kick around anymore, but that doesn’t mean the day was without a peculiar coaching decision.  After the Fins scored a TD to close the gap to 27-24 with 1:48 remaining on the game clock, Interim Head Coach Todd Bowles elected to eschew the expected on-sides kick.   That would mean the Patriots would be able to run out the clock by getting a single first down.  This strategy was much too risky given the way the Patriots had moved the ball against the Fins after halftime.  The Patriots in fact got their first down and the game ended without the Fins touching the ball again.  No doubt, successful on-sides kicks are a low-percentage shot, but if the Fins were successful (as the Broncos were earlier this season) they would have had pretty good field position and (at least) 1:40 remaining on the clock.  On the other hand, even if the Fins had held New England without surrendering a first down, they would likely have gotten mediocre field position and (at most) about 1:20 to try to get into field goal position. 

While there are some who make a case for Matt Moore being the Fins’ QB of the future, this is not a belief shared by this writer.  Those arguing in his favor have some ammunition.  After all, his QB Rating for the last 8 games (a span equal to one-half a season) is an impressive 103.9.  And that rating is enough to place Moore in the top third of the NFL during that timeframe.  But there is, forgive this word, more to the story.  For example, despite a strong first half, Matt Moore finished with a rather pedestrian completion percentage of 51.5% (17 of 33).  The problem is while Moore can throw the deep ball, strangely enough, it is that his accuracy is not what it needs to be on the shorter routes.  Moore has thrown the deep route well enough to have amassed an impressive number of the so-called chunk plays.  But he has problems with the shorter passes and, when they are completed, he often leaves a receiver (who otherwise could have gotten good yardage after the catch) in a position where he cannot turn up-field.  Typically, such accuracy problems are caused by poor footwork.  Hopefully, with some good coaching, he can conquer this problem and become more than just a serviceable back-up.  Only time will tell, but given his performance in the second half against the Pats, the Fins’ QB of the present truly presents a case of Moore being less.

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