IRVING, Texas For a couple years at Valley Ranch, no one wanted to mention the name Matt Moore. The Dallas Cowboys had signed Moore to a free-agent rookie contract in '07 and despite his strong play in the preseason, they gambled that he would clear waivers and end up on their practice squad.
The Carolina Panthers foiled that plan by signing Moore to their 53-man roster and he ended up starting 13 games in three seasons with the club. Inconsistent play and a shoulder injury brought his time in Carolina to a close, but he's now seizing his opportunity with the Miami Dolphins.
Moore has completed 70 percent of his passes while throwing six touchdowns and only one interception to lead the Dolphins to three straight wins after an 0-7 start. And it turns out the former Oregon State star left quite an impression on his former Cowboys teammates.
"I'm not a GM, but if I was, he'd still be here," said Cowboys linebacker Bradie James of Moore. "He was on the scout team and he used to light us up. He makes good reads, he moves, he's a good quarterback. I think he's one of the up and coming quarterbacks in this league."
Defensive end Jason Hatcher had only been with the Cowboys for one season when Moore arrived in '07. He said the quarterback wasn't short on confidence.
"You have to have a little arrogance if you're a quarterback," Hatcher told FOXSportsSouthwest.com on Tuesday. "Matt had that from the moment he showed up. He's a smart quarterback and he's mobile. I always said he was going to be a good quarterback for someone, and it looks like I was onto something."
Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano was the assistant head coachoffensive line for the Cowboys when Moore arrived in '07. Sparano had been the playcaller for Bill Parcells the previous season, and he remembers throwing a lot at Moore in a short amount of time.
Sparano played an important role in the development of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. When Parcells left following the '06 season, it was Sparano who did his best to keep Romo's ego in check. When the quarterback made a mistake in practice, Sparano occasionally shouted for him to stop thinking about whichever starlet he was dating at the time. But make no mistake, Sparano is a huge supporter of Romo's, and that's why one quote stood out during his visit with the Dolphins media Monday.
"He's a guy that from Day 1 down there has been able to get that team moving," Sparano said of Romo. "Kind of some of the things even I've seen in Matt Moore."
It's not like Dolphins fans have embraced Moore with the same passion that Broncos fans have shown for quarterback Tim Tebow, but at least one player on that roster was ready to make that comparison. Dolphins first-round pick Mike Pouncey played with Tebow at the University of Florida, and he's sees some similarities.
"I only had one guy act like that, and it was Tebow," Pouncey told the Miami Herald earlier this week. "Moore's fiery, man. Real fiery."
When Parcells replaced starter Drew Bledsoe with Tony Romo six games into the '06 season, it gave the entire organization a boost. It's way too early to think Moore can do the same thing with the Dolphins, but he has given Sparano his best chance of holding onto his job. Just three weeks ago, that seemed like an impossible scenario.
But this Dolphins team is now playing with a swagger that was absent the first seven weeks of the season. And a former Cowboys training-camp arm is probably the biggest reason.