Never will you encounter a more steadfast supporter of Kellen Moore than yours truly.
Well, perhaps just a little less intensely than Skip Bayless. Not that I watch the guy on First Take or anything. I digress.
Now that this raw rookie has made it to the NFL level—the detractors are still incredulous—what amount of playing time will serve him well moving forward?
If his first professional game serves as any indication, limited seems the prudent answer.
Moore went 4-for-14 for 40 yards and an interception against the Browns. His quarterback rating of 9.8 doesn’t even seem right.
(To be fair, the pick occurred on the second-to-last play of the game with only 19 seconds remaining.)
The following week was a substantial improvement against a much more legitimate opponent—second- or third-team defenses notwithstanding. Moore completed 10 of 15 passes for 96 yards (84.3 QB rating), much to the chagrin of the Baltimore Ravens and Moore-haters everywhere.
He appeared more poised and actually led a scoring a drive (albeit a field goal). He also moved the chains via the pass three times, including twice on third downs. On the other hand, Moore failed on a few occasions, most notably a fumble that led to an 11-yard loss.
By and large, however, Moore played better in limited time, rather than extended time on the field. His awful performance in the first game began in the first half, while his improved outing the next time around began with seven minutes left in the third quarter.
Saying that Moore should only play in second halves or fourth quarters against easier competition is a fair assertion. He made it readily apparent against the Browns.
Learning from a 5,000-yard passer in Matthew Stafford, as well as gleaning insights from Shaun Hill, a savvy veteran backup, will best facilitate his future development.
Similarly, Moore can utilize his remarkable smarts and football IQ to digest the array of shockingly complex NFL playbooks. He would spend the majority of time studying, while putting just enough of that learning into practice.
At the same time, one must realize—myself included—that arguably the hardest thing to do in professional sports—aside from driving in NASCAR—is playing quarterback in the NFL. There is an ungodly amount of study involved before one can even dream of seeing real-time action.
That is why Kellen Moore is best served playing in highly limited minutes in the final two preseason games. Even if he does register increased playing time, it will be because the Lions coaching staff removes all members of the first- and second-team offense in Game 4.
And to those who would say that he doesn’t have anything left to lose—I’d say that he has everything to lose.
If Detroit does indeed throw him out there to the proverbial wolves—or literal and merciless NFL playing field—and Moore stumbles in an unsightly fashion, then he may never receive a shot with another team. Coaches, scouts and front-office personnel in the National Football League are simply too cynical, stubborn and unforgiving.
So sit Kellen Moore in the interim; don’t extensively play him, then cut him.
When a few years go by after he learns a system and bulks up a bit, then afford the young man the opportunity to disprove the naysayers.
That “raw rookie” status will be a thing of the past, and he surely won’t disappoint.
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