BY SEAN DONOVAN
The bad news is that Miami saw its budding rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill go down with a leg injury early in the first quarter.
Though the Dolphins played perhaps their most complete game of the season on defense and special teams, the win would not have been possible without the efficient passing and game-readiness of backup quarterback Matt Moore.
"I’m not surprised that he played well," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin told reporters on Monday, according to the team's media department. "I think it’s a credit to him and [quarterbacks coach] Zac [Taylor] and [offensive coordinator] Mike [Sherman] to have him ready to go.”
Moore entered the offseason as the incumbent starter but was passed over for the job in favor of Tannehill during training camp.
Tannehill knew Sherman's West Coast system, having run it in his time at Texas A&M, and Moore was more of traditional, drop-back passer. The logic was, while Moore was a talented passer, the rookie's proficiency in the offense gave him the edge.
Despite this, Moore was able to seamlessly step in when Tannehill went down, efficiently running the offense and guiding the Dolphins to the convincing victory. The fifth-year pro completed 11-of-18 passes for 131 yards on the day and threw one touchdown pass.
Philbin knows he is lucky to have such a capable back-up behind his young quarterback.
"We’re fortunate in that regard," the first-year coach said. "You go into a game and you build your plan off of your players and what you’re going to see from the opposition. We were able to pretty much stay with what we were going to do.”
It's a credit to not only Moore, who had a similarly proficient performance in the final 12 games of last season, but to the Dolphins' coaches to prepare the players and the gameplan in a way that would work in the event that the starter went down.
"What says a lot about Matt is his preparation," Sherman said. "You know when you’re not expecting something to happen it is hard to have great preparation, but obviously he has. I thought he went in and did extremely well and he was a big part of why we won that football game.”
Tannehill's MRI on Monday reportedly revealed no significant structural damage to his knee, but his status is still uncertain for Miami's suddenly-important Week 9 tilt against the 4-3 Indianapolis Colts. But after Moore's performance against the Jets, the Dolphins' coaching staff is comfortable with the veteran filling in.
"He’s a good football player," Philbin said. "He loves the game and is an excellent teammate. He’s worked his tail off since the day I’ve been here. He’s impressive, I’m happy for him. I’m glad he played well. Not surprised, but happy."
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