Miami Dolphins: 5 Reasons to Start David Garrard in Week 1
Much of that coverage reaffirms what we knew before camp opened: Garrard is the favorite.
On Friday, ESPN's James Walker reported:
"[Garrard] took a step forward and definitively looked like the better quarterback. It's clear he is most comfortable in the West Coast offense. Garrard didn't force anything and made good throws downfield when the opportunity presented itself. Moore struggled with his accuracy on Saturday. He missed too many throws he should've made in an uneven performance."
Garrard even told the media, "I think my chances [of starting] are pretty good." Although the competition is still wide open, it's time to start embracing him as a potential starter.
Matt Moore is a lovable fan favorite, and I doubt any Dolphins fans would protest if he won the starting job; however, Garrard is an underrated and reliable player who provides plenty of benefits and upside as well.
We Know What to Expect from David Garrard
At age 34, David Garrard isn't going to have a renaissance season and throw for 4,000 yards. But that's never been his style, anyway. In four seasons as the Jacksonville Jaguars' starter, Garrard never threw for more than 3,600 yards.
Though he didn't churn out big numbers, he did register a 62.7 percent completion percentage, 88.0 quarterback rating, and a 71-41 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Garrard specializes in taking care of the football, making smart, conservative and efficient decisions and, most importantly, keeping the team competitive. He can do this for the Dolphins just like Chad Pennington did.
Sure, he has his limitations. Garrard averaged just 214.8 yards per game as the Jags' starter, and he threw 15 interceptions in 2010. But take a look at some of the wide receivers he played with. Mike Sims-Walker is the single best wideout he played with in Jacksonville, and he was asked to rely on names like Dennis Northcutt, Troy Williamson and Reggie Williams as primary targets.
This Dolphins team might not be anything special, but this team's supporting cast is far greater than anything Garrard had with the Jaguars.
And, don't forget, he was a Pro Bowler in 2009 and tossed 23 touchdowns in 2010. Garrard is no slouch. He's a very good—not great—veteran who, at the very least, will keep the Dolphins afloat, and that's ultimately all that matters in 2012.
We Don't Know What to Expect from Matt Moore
In 2009, Matt Moore was a second-year backup quarterback for the Carolina Panthers. With five games remaining in the season, Jake Delhomme suffered a season-ending hand injury, boosting Moore into the starting role.
He responded to the challenge by posting a 4-1 record and throwing only two interceptions.
Moore defeated Jimmy Clausen for the starting job the following offseason, but he couldn't replicate that magical play from the year before. He struggled to a 1-4 start before the Panthers benched him in favor of Clausen.
Granted, that team was awful and finished 2-14, it's a cautionary tale. Moore's numbers from those five games are terrible: 55.2 completion percentage, five touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 55.6 quarterback rating. It's really tough to defend him considering he had Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams and Steve Smith at his disposal.
There's no guarantee that Moore, in a completely new offense, will play as well as he did last season—especially now that teams have sufficient tape to prepare and find his weaknesses.
Moore is a fan favorite who offers more upside than Garrard—if only because we've only seen Moore in short stints—but he carries far more downside as well.
Garrard Is a Better Fit for the Dolphins Offensive Philosophy
The four main traits a quarterback must possess in the West Coast offense are timing, touch, accuracy and athleticism.
According to Scouts Inc., David Garrard "has a strong arm...has enough speed to extend the pocket and make plays on the perimeter...he can be a bit erratic but does a good job of protecting the ball and is a good decision-maker."
Moore, on the other hand, has a "decent arm" and "is more of a pocket passer than one that can extend the pocket and make plays on the move."
History suggests Garrard is a more logical fit for a West Coast offense.
This is why the Dolphins signed him.
Maybe Moore, who has no documented experience in a WCO, will make the necessary adjustments to succeed in the scheme. But there's no denying that Garrard's attributes give him an edge on Moore, and it makes him a better fit for Joe Philbin's philosophy.
Other variables will factor in to the quarterback competition. Moore could develop better chemistry with the Dolphins wide receivers, and he could prove to be a more charismatic, supported leader than Garrard.
But, considering Garrard is also a seasoned, respected veteran, the starting job may be his to lose.
Matt Moore Responds When Called Upon
We don't know how Moore will respond if he wins the starting job, but the Dolphins coaching staff can sleep easy at night knowing he's their backup QB.
In 2009 and 2011, the two seasons Moore stepped in as a starter mid-season, he accrued this stat line in 17 games: 295-for-485, 24 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and 3,550 yards.
If Moore posted those numbers in one season, he'd be in contention for a Pro Bowl bid.
However impressive these stats may be, they won't affect Moore's odds of winning the Dolphins' quarterback competition. He needs to outplay Garrard in training camp, and even if he's unable to, he'll be in familiar and comfortable territory coming off of the bench.
More importantly, the Dolphins will have an excellent contingency plan if Garrard struggles.
Garrard Has a Chip on His Shoulder and Something to Prove
David Garrard was the face of the Jacksonville Jaguars for four years.
In 2007, he led the Jags to their first playoff win since 1999 on a dramatic game-winning drive that included a 32-yard scramble on a 4th & 2. It's the franchise's only playoff victory in the last 12 years.
After his inspiring playoff performance, Jacksonville signed Garrard to a six-year, $60 million deal. Although he never lived up to his contract, he was voted into the Pro Bowl and registered a 15-15 record in his last two seasons despite some very weak supporting casts.
However, prior to the 2011 season, the Jags unceremoniously cut Garrard, who was slowed by a herniated disk. Head coach Jack Del Rio told ESPN:
"He just couldn't get it going...I had met with him a couple of weeks ago and brought him in and said, 'Hey, listen, you're my guy. I need you to get it going.' He was given every opportunity. He was somewhat apologetic that he wasn't able to deliver."
What Del Rio fails to mention is that the team saved nine million dollars by cutting Garrard, who would eventually be ushered out by first-round pick Blaine Gabbert.
Immediately after his release, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that five teams extended offers to Garrard, so it's clear that other NFL execs didn't believe he was done. The Dolphins were amongst those teams to court him, in fact. They offered him a contract after Chad Henne went down in Week 6, but Garrard told ESPN's Chris Mortensen:
Garrard wanted to reconcile conflicting reports that he declined the opportunity to sign with the Dolphins because of money, as well as his lack of desire to play.
"They were not willing to guarantee me the kind of money that reflects a real commitment and what I believe would protect me from being cut twice in one season," Garrard said. "That doesn't mean I'm one of those players who thinks I'm worthy of another big pay day. My thoughts are the money I did want guaranteed the rest of the year was miniscule with respect to what I accomplished over my career. It wasn't outrageous."
On the lack of desire to play, he indicated he was not prepared to embrace the Dolphins' instability after a 0-4 start without a reasonable financial commitment.
If Garrard was truly willing to play last season, then he must've felt that the Dolphins and the other teams who contacted him offered low-ball contracts. There's no doubt he'll set out to prove the Jaguars and all of the teams who underestimated him last year (including the Dolphins and Jeff Ireland) that he's got something left in the tank.