06 Aug The Book on Jay Cutler in Miami
The last thing I thought I’d be doing on the first weekend in August was watching Jay Cutler film. This whirlwind week has done its best to foreshadow what Dolphins fans will see with Cutler – a rollercoaster of emotions. The newest Dolphins quarterback has a plethora of similarities with the Dolphins injured quarterback.
Charting all 546 drop back of Cutler’s 2015 season ended with these results:
|Off-target w/o pressure||46||8.40%|
|On target under pressure||71||13%|
|At fault INTs/INT||7 of 11|
|At fault sacks/sacks||4 of 29|
Adam Gase and his staff have preached continuity all off-season. Jay Cutler allows for the smoothest transition for Gase and Miami. The playbook will be nearly indistinguishable from Ryan Tannehill to Cutler. Had Matt Moore been handed the keys, a lot of the principles that make Adam Gase’s offense great, would’ve had to go into the trash.
Cutler’s ability to challenge every blade of grass with his immense arm talent is what made him a first round pick over a decade ago. Cutler is crafty within the pocket, avoiding pressure and extending plays. Cutler’s sense of pressure is better than Tannehill’s. He can quickly move off of his spot, turtle-in behind the line, and emerge from the trash, attacking the line of scrimmage with his finger on the trigger.
There won’t be a fall off from an athleticism stand-point. Tannehill would clock a better 40 time, but both players move like a drunk guy that stole a 60-inch flat screen from a party. (Credit Kevin Dern, @KevinMD4 for that joke.)
The zone-read and misdirection principles that make the complimentary Dolphins offense so dynamic remains in place. Cutler is entirely capable of reading a crashing end and keeping it around the edge for a chunk of yardage.
The variety of packages Adam Gase dials up is part of the mastery to his scheme. The seamless transition will allow the Dolphins to continue to identify mismatches. The 2015 Bears ran 3×1 sets just as frequently as the Dolphins (three wide to the play side and a tight on the back side.) The tight, bunch sets were also used often, but the Bears didn’t have nearly the caliber receivers Cutler will have in Miami, allowing for more creativity.
Devante Parker figures to benefit from this move more than Jarvis Landry or Kenny Stills. The short area rub-routes that became a staple for Parker were ran just the same with Alshon Jeffery with Chicago.
Remember the San Francisco and San Diego games when Tannehill broke the pocket and found Parker free-lancing? Cutler did just that with Jeffery in Chicago far more often. He has a trust in his play makers and will attempt to stick balls into coverage. He throws an excellent back-shoulder ball and mixes in the touch floaters from time to time.
Gase gave Cutler full autonomy at the line of scrimmage. Sliding protection and changing his hot-read, Cutler was in complete command of the offense – there won’t be a learning curve when he arrives in Miami.
Here is a group of some of Cutler’s most impressive plays:
Staying on schedule is imperative in Adam Gase’s offense. Running the football successfully, completing the short passes and taking shot plays when they open up is the philosophy Gase calls a game by. Cutler’s quick release and sensational zip should make these routes plenty achievable. All three Dolphins receivers are capable of winning slant-routes and taking them to the house, so that should be a bread-and-butter play in 2017.
Anticipation is a trait Gase built into Cutler. A play action with a deep-set and a deep comeback route on the boundary is a great way to beat one-on-one coverage. Miami should be able to implement this rather easily with a trio of good route runners.
Just as there is an abundance of skill, there are plenty of downfalls to Jay Cutler’s game. The aforementioned ability to escape the rush and set up to throw is terrific – but Cutler’s accuracy while attacking the line of scrimmage is a mystery. The ball often sails and leads to some interceptions in these instances.
Interceptions are a part of Cutler’s game – just get used to it. He trusts his arm too much at times and plays too instinctual at times. When he’s evading the rush, if he sees a target uncover, that ball is coming out – and defenders are not always accounted for.
Cutler’s mechanics get sloppy far too often. In the face of the rush or on the move, he has a tendency to throw falling away or without planting his feet and driving the football. His arm angle will change on him and cause accuracy issues from different platforms. This causes him to lose velocity and allows defenders to close on the football.
Gase has a way of creating successful game plans even when his talent isn’t up to snuff. In the first Minnesota game, the Bears offensive line was severely over-matched. Gase fed the ground game, ran quick screens and kept the score close in the first half. In the second half, he opened it up against a defense that was honoring the horizontal game, affording more opportunities.
With those quick-read-strikes (bubble and tunnel screens, slants, hitches) Cutler will stare it down and force the ball in. A stubborn player, Cutler will double or triple clutch until he sees an opportunity and attempt to squeeze the ball in, regardless of coverage.
Jay Cutler’s streaky play is going to frustrate Dolphins fans. In the Oakland game from 2015, he sailed the first throw and then spiked two consecutive passes into the dirt. On the next drive, he drops a dime up the sideline to Jeffery – his play is a down-to-down adventure.
One area he has to improve in is the short throws to the right side flat. This is a basic throw of any offense, and in Gase’s in particular. For whatever reason, he throws these passes wide and/or high far too often and misses out on extremely simple completions.
There is a formula to make Jay Cutler successful in Miami. Run the ball, keep the down and distance short. The vertical game is very much alive with Cutler’s big arm. Kenny Stills should get plenty of opportunities to make game-breaking plays.
Jay Cutler was the Dolphins best opportunity to be winners in 2017 after Tannehill went down. Matt Moore is better suited in a back-up role and the impact Gase had on Cutler in 2015 is encouraging.
The 2016 season was full of emotional swings, just like this past week. Don’t expect that to change any time soon.