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As I thought about writing a column about Matt Moore, I decided to reach out to the greatest back-up quarterback this franchise has seen. Who better than Don Strock could relate to what Moore is going through?
Strock played 14 seasons for the Dolphins, primarily backing up Bob Griese and then Dan Marino. He certainly had his moments: Remember WoodStrock? The famous hook-and-lateral play against San Diego? Or how about just the enormous impact Strock had on Marino’s career?
So I posed one simple question to Strock: What advice does he have for the current Dolphins back-up quarterback?
“Do you have enough time for this,” Strock said with a chuckle.
And then he began listing the attributes a back-up undoubtedly needs. And as I listened to Strock, I quickly realized that I need to get Matt Moore off to the side and have him respond to each of Strock’s points, both to see if he agrees and how it applies to his relationship with starter Ryan Tannehill.
So one early afternoon last week, under the typically brutal South Florida sun, I repeated to Moore everything Strock had said. And the more I listened, the more I realized how fortunate the Dolphins are to have both a player and a person like Matt Moore as its back-up quarterback.
Strock: “You have to be patient.”
Moore: “Absolutely. You can’t get ahead of the game. It is almost a luxury to be in my spot because you can go a little slower. I have the chance every day to watch Ryan Tannehill and listen to the teachings he is getting. When you think you might get a chance to play and you don’t, you absolutely have to be able to sit back and be patient. It is a must.”
Strock: “You have to approach every game as if this is the game I’m going to play.”
Moore: “No doubt about that. I first learned that from Jake Delhomme in Carolina and then from Vinny Testaverde. You just never know in this league. You have to spend every day preparing as if your number will be called. This is the way it’s been for me my entire career and I’m already starting my seventh season.”
Strock: “When you whisper something in the starter’s ear, you have to know he’s going to listen.
Moore: “Ryan and I have that kind of relationship. Now, that whisper can be about all sorts of things. It can be technical, about a certain defensive look he is getting. It can be something silly to keep his mind off of something that went wrong. I have that with Ryan. The mutual respect is important. He knows I only want the best for him. He always listens.”
Strock: “Check your ego at the door.”
Moore: “Well, I’ve never really had an ego. I think that comes from playing for Mike Riley at Oregon State. You have to understand what this game will do to you. You will do some things wrong and you will do some things right and you may even do some things that embarrass you. But if you understand the big picture, if you are comfortable with yourself, there should be no ego problems.”
Strock: “Always be there for the starter on the sideline.”
Moore: “I try to always be around for Ryan. If there is something that should be said, or something I feel Ryan needs to hear from a player instead of a coach, then I will never hesitate. A lot of times, it’s just positive things. Yeah, Ryan and I have a good deal going on the sideline.”
Strock: “You’ll think about leaving – I did – but you should also realize that you have a pretty good job and an important job.”
Moore: “I had a chance to leave after last season, but I decided to come back and I believe I made that decision for all the right reasons. The organization. The people. Coach Philbin. Coach Sherman. I just feel really comfortable here. Everybody speculated if I went somewhere else I would get a shot. But nobody really knows that for sure. I know what I have here. I love it here.”
Strock: “Your time will come.”
Moore: “Well, it’s come true in the past for me. So if history repeats itself, I guess my time will come. But at the same time I never want anything to happen to Ryan. For me, it’s all about being ready to play if needed. It’s all about making sure the fire keeps burning inside me. I take a lot of pride in understanding my role.”
The interviews were over. Strock had a round of golf to play and Moore had a few meetings to attend. There is a season rapidly approaching and Moore, as Strock had done for so many years, wanted to make sure he is prepared for every possible situation.
“I thought I always gave us a chance to win,” Strock said.
Responded Moore, without hesitation: “That’s exactly the way I feel.”
Coming Wednesday in A.C. in the A.M. – A look at the enormous potential of safety Reshad Jones.
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