A starting quarterback meets with the media during the middle of every week, standard protocol across the NFL. So on Wednesday afternoon inside the Chiefs’ practice facility, the anticipation settled on which man would walk through the door ready to field questions from reporters.
Ultimately, despite coach Andy Reid not yet ruling out the possibility that Patrick Mahomes plays Sunday, 10 days after suffering a dislocated knee cap, it was Matt Moore who walked through the entryway.
Which means he’s been told he will start Sunday against the Packers, right?
Well, not exactly.
“I have not,” Moore said. “We’re moving forward as whoever is getting the reps is going to go and move forward that way.
“It’s kind of a tricky deal right now.”
Right up Moore’s alley, in other words.
Moore joined the Chiefs in August, after organized team activities had concluded — after training camp. He didn’t take a snap in the preseason. Heck, even when Moore got the call in relief of Mahomes Thursday at Denver, the reigning league MVP still hadn’t relinquished a first-team rep to him in practice, though that likely changed Wednesday.
“It was kind of funny. I was super excited to sign here, and then once I got here, I was like, ‘Holy smokes,’” Moore said. “No camp. No OTAs. No nothing. And there’s always that potential case where you have to play soon. That was always in my mind the first couple weeks.”
It didn’t come that soon. But the time is here. For now. If Mahomes can’t go Sunday, Moore will be the guy. Even in this murky situation, that much is clear. Moore finished the Chiefs’ Week 7 victory over the Broncos last week after Mahomes’ injury.
By his own admission, Moore looked rusty at first Thursday night. But who could blame him? He hadn’t thrown an NFL pass in well over a year. Then he settled in, with a couple of “rhythm passes,” as he described them, before hitting Tyreek Hill for a 57-yard touchdown.
So for the first time in two seasons, Moore will enter an NFL weekend with some recent experience under his belt. Which lends credibility to the idea that if called to start Sunday — and that remains an “if” — observers will see a more confident version of Moore.
The operative word: Moore.
“Watching Pat, it’s easy to want to play like him,” Moore said. “Which I can’t.”
The Chiefs have said they won’t overhaul their offense if Moore starts, a concept Reid reiterated once more Wednesday. Tweaks? Sure. They will call plays they feel cater to his strengths.
But Moore isn’t exactly an unknown commodity. He has started 30 NFL games and appeared in relief during 21 others. He is 15-15 as a starter with a career 81.2 quarterback rating.
“I think I just rely on the history and the experience that I have in this league,” Moore said. “I’ve always been been a guy who typically, most of my career, I’ve gotten training camp and all that stuff, but the reps haven’t been there; the practice hasn’t been there. As a backup, that doesn’t happen. That’s everywhere. I’ve always relied on that, hey, it’s football. It’s concepts. You know what you’re doing and go play.”
That’s one of the attributes that made him attractive to the Chiefs when backup Chad Henne fractured his ankle. His understanding of the game offers a quicker learning curve. But anyone stepping into Reid’s complicated offense still requires time to fully grasp it.
Moore has been preparing for the what-if scenario in a multitude of ways. Studying the playbook. Watching film. And during games, he listens intently to Mahomes’ conversations through the team’s headsets. “I like listening to him to see if my brain matches up with his brain,” Moore said.
Sometimes it does. Sometimes it differs. But eventually they usually arrive at the same conclusion, even if by a different path. Reid is installing a game plan designed to fit Moore’s thought process.
But the reverse is true, too.
“You have to adapt to the offense. You adapt to the guys around you,” Moore said. “Some things are being taught maybe differently than you’ve had in the past, so adapting every day (and) learning every day in every experience, every meeting, whatever. I think I’m open to that and trying to do it how Coach Reid wants it done or whatever works best for certain guys. Constantly adapting.”