Cut­ler says he’s hav­ing fun, Dol­phins do­ing OK

Tak­ing hits while lead­ing a strug­gling of­fense, QB says he’s ‘hav­ing fun’ and Dol­phins have plenty of time to turn it around.

The Palm Beach Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Ja­son Lieser Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

The quar­ter­back’s num­bers haven’t been im­pres­sive, but he points out Mi­ami is 2-2, and “we’re still in a good po­si­tion.”

DAVIE — Jay Cut­ler in­sists he’s hav­ing fun. It sure doesn’t look like it, but he keeps say­ing so.

He’s been tak­ing a lot of hits, and his num­bers through four games are pretty rough: 62.6 com­ple­tion per­cent­age (17th in the NFL), 176.5 yards per game (29th), three touch­downs, three in­ter­cep­tions and a 74.8 passer rat­ing (30th).

De­spite that, he’s still happy he came out of re­tire­ment to play for the Dol­phins.

“I am, I am hav­ing fun,” he said af­ter prac­tice Thurs­day. “It’s a re­ally good locker room, a good coach­ing staff, great or­ga­ni­za­tion. They do any­thing un­der the sun to make you a suc­cess­ful foot­ball player.

“There’s a lot of bright sides of be­ing here, and at the end of the day we’re 2-2. We’re still in a good po­si­tion, and we’ve got to feel good about that. We’ve just got to be more con­sis­tent. We’ve just got to go back to work, do every­thing the right way on and off the field, and if we keep do­ing that, it’s go­ing to come to­gether.”

The of­fense has been so poor (three touch­downs in four games and a league-low av­er­age of 231.3 yards) that it’s easy to for­get the Dol­phins are .500. One prob­lem for them, though, is that the first quar­ter of the sea­son rep­re­sented a rel­a­tively light set of op­po­nents on this year’s

sched­ule. The two op­po­nents they beat are a com­bined 3-7.

Mi­ami’s road gets much tougher start­ing Sun­day at At­lanta. Cut­ler sees that and senses some ur­gency for the of­fense to get things straight­ened out.

“Of­fen­sively, if we can’t get it to­gether, it could go the other way pretty quickly,” he said. “But there’s a lot of foot­ball left. There’s a whole three quar­ters for us to go out there and fig­ure things out and play bet­ter ball.”

As far as con­tin­u­ing to ab­sorb this phys­i­cal toll at 34, Cut­ler said his body is hold­ing up well. That’s a good sign for the Dol­phins af­ter he spent most of the off­sea­son do­ing lit­tle more than play­ing pickup basketball at Van­der­bilt.

“I think not do­ing OTAs and not do­ing a lot of that other stuff, my body is still pretty fresh,” he said. “I think once you get above 30, those days, even though they’re kind of low-im­pact, start adding up. Your body is so twisted up. So I feel good.”

Left tackle Laremy Tun­sil, the of­fen­sive line­man re­spon­si­ble for pro­tect­ing Cut­ler’s blind side, had an in­ter­est­ing take on an ad­just­ment that must take place when a first-year quar­ter­back like Cut­ler steps into a hud­dle. Tun­sil’s mes­sage to Cut­ler? Trust us.

“The quar­ter­back has to trust us be­cause he’s new here,” Tun­sil said. “It’s just more of him trust­ing us. And it comes with time. The more trust he has in us, the bet­ter we’ll do.”

Cut­ler has been un­der pres­sure. But he’s also made skit­tish de­ci­sions at times.

Some­times Cut­ler has held the ball too long. Some­times Cut­ler has rushed a throw, with­out set­ting his feet, re­sult­ing in in­ac­cu­racy.

Cut­ler’s com­ments seemed in line with Tun­sil’s as­sess­ment.

“Yes, it’s some­thing that you’ve just got to al­ways fight,” Cut­ler said of rushed foot­work. “You’ve al­ways got to fight that and just trust that those guys are go­ing to give you a good pocket, set the edge and let you work in there. So it’s that con­stant bat­tle of when to leave, when to stay.”

Cut­ler has been sacked 10 times in four games.

By com­par­i­son, Dol­phins quar­ter­back Matt Moore was sacked once in four games last sea­son.

Though Bran­den Al­bert was traded, Tun­sil was pro­jected as an up­grade at left tackle. And the of­fen­sive line­men are, gen­er­ally, the same.

Though Tun­sil has steadily im­proved each game this sea­son, the opener was a strug­gle. Tun­sil was beaten by Melvin In­gram and Chris McCain for sacks. It ap­peared in that game that Tun­sil was go­ing to need some time to read­just to tackle af­ter play­ing guard last sea­son.

“Of course I haven’t been happy with my­self,” Tun­sil said. “I don’t like giv­ing up sacks. And I don’t like mess­ing up at all. I’m so hard on my­self, any lit­tle mis­take I want to fix. I want to be per­fect. But that’s the beauty of it. You can’t be per­fect. It’s some­thing you strive for.”

Coach Adam Gase said Tun­sil played bet­ter in games 3 and 4 af­ter play­ing not as well in Games 1 and 2.

“The thing that we have to keep re­mem­ber­ing is this is his first year play­ing left tackle in the NFL,” Gase said. “It’s a tough po­si­tion. You’re go­ing against good rush­ers week in and week out. There is no small school you’re go­ing to play. There’s no breather game for you in the NFL. Every game is go­ing to be a tough game. It’s just go­ing to be that con­stant prepa­ra­tion, mak­ing sure that day in and day out, you’re work­ing to get bet­ter and when you hit Sun­day, you’ve just got to have the mind­set that it’s not go­ing to be easy.”

‘But there’s a lot of foot­ball left. There’s a whole three quar­ters for us to go out there and fig­ure things out and play bet­ter ball.’ — Jay Cut­ler

TIM IRE­LAND / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Quar­ter­back Jay Cut­ler (right, with run­ning back Jay Ajayi dur­ing prac­tice for the re­cent game in Lon­don) says the Dol­phins are still in a “good po­si­tion” at 2-2 de­spite an of­fense that has to­taled 37 points all sea­son.

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