Problem’s more than Cutler
There’s plenty of blame for team’s offensive struggles
DAVIE — Very few people will shed a tear for a quarterback who needed to be guaranteed $10 million to be talked out of retirement. Especially considering Jay Cutler has cleared $122 million in career earnings, despite being universally viewed as an average NFL quarterback.
However, Cutler could be crying right now when he looks at every important number that doesn’t involve his bank account.
Cutler is on pace to have his worst NFL season ever, leading what could be the Miami Dolphins’ worst offensive season ever. Some fans seem to think everything that’s wrong with Miami’s offense is his fault.
During Miami’s 16-10 win over the Tennessee Titans last Sunday, there were a half dozen “We Want Moore” chants coming from the Hard Rock Stadium crowd, and the sentiment calling for backup quarterback Matt Moore was loud enough for the TV audience to hear it.
Some players, such as center Mike Pouncey, laughed off the “We Want Moore” chants saying the crowd was asking for “more offense.”
But others, such as leading receiver Jarvis Landry, didn’t find the chants funny at all. In fact, he labeled them “disrespectful, and said “it’s embarrassing to have fans like that.”
“A man that comes out here and works his [butt] off, for people to not understand what’s really going on, or to not have touched the field before saying we want someone else to be playing. They don’t understand the situation or know what’s going on. They just want to be on Twitter and start a chant,” Landry said. “It’s not about who is the quarterback. Jay is our quarterback and we stand by him regardless of [the struggles]. We find ways to make plays for each
Those invested enough to watch the game film should know Cutler doesn’t deserve to be the scapegoat.
Cutler didn’t drop five passes last week against the Titans, and he’s not struggling to get open like Miami’s receivers and tight ends have been for the past three weeks.
Cutler isn’t compromising his pocket, giving up pressure that’s flushing him off his throwing spot, preventing him from looking downfield on two-thirds of Miami’s passing plays.
That’s Miami’s offensive line.
Cutler’s not the player carrying the ball in a rushing offense that’s averaging a pedestrian 3.2 yards per run and gaining 74.8 yards per game.
Is Cutler blameless? He’s had his share of bad play, bad throws and poor decisions, like the interception he threw last week to the Titans. In that play, throwing the ball away would have allowed the offense keep position, fighting on for another down.
He’s consistently throwing passes off his back foot and occasionally misfires on four or five makeable throws per game. But what quarterback doesn’t have those bad plays? Ryan Tannehill certainly did.
Cutler’s a rental, so few in South Florida — outside of coach Adam Gase — is invested in the quarterback who has become the face of football apathy because of his personality and expressions. But it’s not fair to place all the blame for the offense’s struggles on Cutler.
I get it. The Dolphins’ offense is ranked last in total yards per game, yards per play, first downs per game, third-down efficiency and points per game.
But the problem isn’t user error. It’s a system malfunction, an algorithm issue. A complete overhaul of the hard drive is needed, not a change of the user.
“We can’t magically think that this is just going to turn around just because we come in and we practice and we play games,” said Cutler, who has a 74.8 passer rating. “There’s got to be a focus there. There’s got to be energy. There’s got to be a sense of urgency for us offensively.”
That means everyone, including Cutler, needs to tighten up.
Gase said Cutler, a 12-year veteran who turned 34 in March, needs to learn he can’t make the off-balance throws he once rifled off in his prime.
The Dolphins have been working with him on setting his feet better, hoping that it will improve his accuracy and ball placement.
“In the past he’s been able to hop left, be onbalance and throw the ball across the field and the ball will get there with good velocity,” Gase said. “The older you get, the more you have to be able to set your feet, get aligned, make sure that you’re using your entire body, because your arm eventually doesn’t give you the juice that it did five or six years ago.”
The Dolphins better hope they find that juice, because the clock is ticking on the season and Miami’s rental quarterback.
“There’s got to be a sense of urgency for us offensively.” Jay Cutler, Dolphins quarterback
Jay Cutler is on pace to have his worst NFL season ever.