It is finally official and Jay Cutler has been signed to a one year contract for $10 million (with incentives) to be the Miami Dolphins starting quarterback in 2017. Reports are now surfacing that Miami also considered Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick as well but Cutler was the person at the top of Head Coach Adam Gase’s wish list. As we have been stating since Thursday, this is as bad a situation as you can have losing your starting quarterback one week into training camp and there was no good outcome here but in my opinion Jay Cutler is the best option Miami had.
First and foremost I really hope the Dolphins organization and Ryan Tannehill decide to get the ACL surgery. It was reported today that Tannehill has a partially torn ACL at this moment. Yes having that surgery means he is out all of this year and may miss a few games next September should he still be a member of this franchise. But for Ryan’s health long-term and for the fact if Ryan is still around and a member of this team next year let’s not be going through this again a year from now. Ryan has given everything to this franchise since joining them in 2012 and taken a beating like few could have taken in that time. He has earned this surgery to get better and I hope all parties involved see that.
Now on to Jay Cutler and the positives here with this signing are this; he knows the style of offense Adam Gase runs and played under Gase recently back in 2015. Also, Cutler is coming off major surgery an labrum injury but he didn’t take a beating last year or many hits so he should be rested and ready to go. The negatives though are he is coming off a major surgery and what shape is he in conditioning wise as well as arm strength wise.
Jay Cutler has this reputation as being a guy who doesn’t care or try hard. Many have read that through his body language and mannerisms on the sideline, but remember in 2015 Adam Gase did work with Cutler on this actually and told him is body language mattered and during that year not only did Cutler have the best statistical year of his career he did change and improve his body language. That might seem silly or minor but many believe that change in Cutler’s body language led to Cutler’s big year in 2015 and everyone involved attributed that to Adam Gase. Another thing to remember, players and coaches who have played with Cutler before have all said the same thing; he isn’t the guy you think he is or the guy portrayed a certain way on TV. Dolphins offensive linemen Jermon Bushrod is a friend of Cutler and has stood up for him many times. So that is another plus that is in play here as well for the Dolphins. Cutler will have a respected vet in the locker-room who starts on the offense who has his back. When Cutler had his retirement party this year Gase (who only coached him for 1 season) got on an airplane and flew to attend that party. Not a lot of people travel to a guy’s retirement party across the country that they only worked with for one year. So there clearly is a bond there.
Looking at Cutler’s recent history you almost have to throw out his 2016 season as he only appeared in 5 games total and he had literally no help around him in those few games. His offensive line was terrible and other than Alshon Jeffery no weapons at wide receiver for him to throw to. In Miami Cutler is surrounded by weapons like Stills, Landry, Parker, Thomas, and Ajayi. The only concern for Miami is the offensive line as the left guard position is a huge question mark and the Dolphins may not have anyone currently on the roster to start there now that Ted Larsen is out for many months. Keeping Cutler upright, healthy, and with a clean jersey avoiding hits is now priority #1, #2, and #3 for this front office, coaching staff, and offensive line. In 2017 Miami will only go as far as Jay Cutler will take them.
Breaking down the numbers Cutler and Tannehill are similar players and have had similar careers of late since 2012. This graphic breaks down that their stats are almost identical so while there will be somewhat of a drop off due to Cutlers age, coming off labrum surgery, and the rushing him to get up to speed on the playbook, if Cutler is at 100% and ready to go the passing game shouldn’t suffer too much.
At the end of the day this situation was horrible and there was never going to be a good outcome. Nobody is going to sit here and say Miami signing Jay Cutler on August 6th is a great thing and the outlook for the season is now all sunshine and rainbows. Losing your starting quarterback to most likely a season ending injury one week into training camp is just awful. Unlike Minnesota last year when Teddy Bridgewater went down Miami didn’t have to trade a 1st round pick to find a replacement. They were able to sign a player who knows the offense and has worked for the head coach and play-caller before. So while this situation isn’t great and downright bad, the best possible outcome Miami could have had happened in the signing of Cutler.
Do expectations for this season change now that Tannehill is gone and the tandem of Cutler/Moore are the Dolphins quarterbacks; of course. I am not going to lie to you and say otherwise. This was probably a 10 to 11 win team and now if they win 8 or 9 I would say the season is a success and 8 to 9 wins may not even be realistic. The season totally hinges on Jay Cutler at this point.
One other thing to consider here and this is a big “WHAT IF” game I am about to play so just play along. WHAT IF this upcoming season Jay Cutler at 34 has a big year? 34 is not that old these days for quarterbacks we have seen the likes of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Bret Favre and others play close to 40 or into their 40’s. WHAT IF Cutler has a big year, does Gase and this organization keep him around for the 2018 season and cut Tannehill to open up cap space to pay someone like Landry? And then draft a quarterback to groom behind Cutler? While I don’t think this would happen IF Cutler had a big year this year I would not rule it out also.
That is looking really far ahead and down the line though. The main issue now is getting Cutler to Miami, making sure he is in shape, and the arm is totally healed from the labrum surgery. I am sure he has already passed a physical with the Miami team doctors if they announced the contract signing today, so he should have a clean bill of health. And it’s a matter of getting Jay up to speed with the offense and the other players on the offense. I would be shocked if Cutler played in one preseason game at all. Maybe a few snaps in the 3rd or 4th preseason game but even that would be surprising to me. I think you save Jay until Week 1 or until he is ready to take the field should that be Week 2 or 3.
Remember one thing though, Jay Cutler did not come here to be a back-up quarterback. The Miami Dolphins didn’t just pay Jay Cutler $10 million to be a back-up Quarterback. Jay Cutler is the Miami Dolphins starting quarterback for 2017 and the fate of the 2017 season rides on the arm of Jay Cutler. In 2017 it is CUTLER OR BUST!