Why the Jay Cutler experiment will (or will not) work with the Dolphins
Just when we thought that the NFL has finally rid itself of Jay Cutler, the football Gods conspired to pry the quarterback away from the broadcast booth and put him back into the field, this time as the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins.
Cutler’s future with the Dolphins has been a fun subject for fans and media alike, so we decided to chime in. Below, we break down a few reasons why Cutler will thrive, or fail, in Miami.
Why the Jay Cutler experiment will work in Miami
This is perhaps the most popular reason for Miami faithful to hope that at the end of the day, Cutler is viewed as a team savior instead of a metaphor for the Dolphins’ knee-jerk reaction upon learning of Ryan Tannehill’s injury.
Cutler has worked with Gase before back when he was the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears in 2015. In Gase’s lone season with the Bears, Cutler was able to put up the best statistical season of his career, passing for 3,659 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He finished with a 92.3 quarterback rating – the highest in Cutler’s NFL tenure.
Gase was hired by the Dolphins following that season, and without his guidance and playbook, Cutler plunged back to his mediocre ways in 2016, though he played just five games due to a right thumb injury. Now, back in partnership with Gase, Cutler could recapture the magic of 2015 – only this time in a new environment.
Cutler is surrounded by talented weapons
Cutler arrives in Miami with a different set of weapons than the ones he had in his days at Soldier Field — arguably, better ones.
With the Dolphins, Cutler gets to work with the triumvirate of Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, and DeVante Parker.
We know what Landry and Stills bring to the table. Parker, meanwhile, has yet to reach the supposed ceiling of his potential after the Dolphins drafted him 14th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.
In two seasons so far with the Dolphins, Parker has received a total of 1,238 yards and seven touchdowns. However, he‘s in line for a breakout season if last Thursday’s preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, albeit in a 31-7 loss, was any indication. In that game, Cutler targeted Parker four times on two drives, including a completed 16-yard pass to the former Louisville Cardinal wideout.
Cutler’s predilection for throwing deep passes sounds appealing for the deep threats like Stills and Parker. Stills was third in the league last season with 17.29 yards per reception, while Parker was 44th with 13.29.
Cutler isn’t going to shoulder most of the offense
Unlike his previous years in Chicago, Cutler isn’t going to be that much of a focal point in Miami’s offense. Sure, the passing game will always be relevant, but Miami is coming off a season in which it dedicated just 56.21 percent of their plays to passing and 43.79 percent to rushing – fifth highest in the league. A big reason for that was Jay Ajayi’s fantastic 2016 season in which he rushed for 1,276 yards with eight rushing scores despite spending the first few weeks as backup to Arian Foster.
Whether that was an aberration or not, the Dolphins will continue to pound the rock to Ajayi for as long as he’s effective. That means less offensive responsibilities for Cutler, who doesn’t have to throw a high volume of risky passes just for Miami to get something going for them on offense. They have other options for that.
Why the Jay Cutler experiment will bomb
Questionable offensive line
Miami surrendered 30 sacks last season, and while that’s good for 10th fewest in the league, that number was still worrisome considering the Dolphins didn’t rely as much on the passing game as other teams, as we have pointed out earlier.
Football Outsiders does a better job of illustrating further how porous the team’s quarterback protection was last year. According to the site’s own metrics, the Dolphins were 21st in adjusted sack rate, which takes into account not only sacks but also intentional groundings, the down count, and the distance. Cutler was sacked 13 times in just five games played last season, and it doesn’t seem he’ll have significantly better pass protection in Miami than he had in Chicago. Miami won’t like an interception machine like Cutler under duress in the pocket.
Age and health
Even during Cutler’s best days under Gase, the quarterback went just 6-9 in 2015 with the Bears, easily missing the playoffs. Cutler’s usage now that he’s picking up his career in Miami need to be dampened down.
At 34-years-old with a body that has picked up quite a number of injuries over the years and a faulty offensive line in front of him, it’s very possible that Cutler will get hurt at some point this coming season. Per Sportsinjurypredictor.com, Cutler has a 62.5 percent chance of being injured in the preseason. That’s about to get higher in the regular season, with 16 games in store for the 2017 Cutler Return Tour.
Because he is Jay Cutler
Most NFL fans are well aware of the signal-caller’s well-documented incompetence to lead a team. In Cutler’s 11 seasons in the NFL, he only has a single playoff appearance, going 1-1 in the 2011 postseason. And it’s not like he was a lucky charm for his teams during regular seasons either, as Cutler sports a career losing record of 68-71; he only has three winning seasons under his belt.
Cutler is a guy who was occasionally replaced as the starting quarterback by dudes who go by the names of Jimmy Clausen, Matt Barkley, and Brian Hoyer in Chicago.
The lack of winning pedigree and a palpable disinclination to lead a squad are often ingredients for disaster. Cutler has both of those qualities firmly ingrained in his system.