DAVIE, Fla. -- Two games, six series and 19 plays.
Many key starters, including Cutler, are expected to sit for Thursday’s preseason finale against the Minnesota Vikings. That means the next time Cutler will be on the field will be Sept. 10 in the regular-season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Cutler joined the Dolphins under unexpected circumstances. Former Miami starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a season-ending left knee injury approximately a week into training camp. Cutler signed a one-year, $10 million contract on Aug. 7 and has been with the team for three weeks.
Despite the quick turnaround, Cutler is confident in his progression heading into the regular season.
“Mentally I feel really good; physically I feel good,” Cutler said. “I think these next couple of days, just getting some more reps (will be important). Then just getting into game week, where we’re really game planning and honing things, getting a game plan exactly where we need to be. That’d be good.”
Cutler’s preseason numbers were solid. He completed 7 of 12 passes for 129 yards, one touchdown and lost one fumble.
Last week Cutler spread the ball around to all of his weapons: Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills and a touchdown throw to tight end Julius Thomas. Cutler is in a good spot with a lot of talent around him, which also includes a Pro Bowl running back in Jay Ajayi.
Perhaps the biggest challenges will be keeping everyone involved while also taking care of the football. Cutler has 37 multi-interception games, which is a big reasons he has a below-.500 record (68-71) despite gaudy career numbers.
“We know we’ve got a ton of talent on offense,” Stills said. “We’re just trying to do our job. If everyone does their job on any given play, we know there’s an opportunity for us to go out there and do something.”
Added Cutler: “They all want the ball. That’s pretty standard throughout the league, but they’re really unselfish guys. They block for each other. They run off (defenders) for each other. They’re doing every little thing possible to help each other.”
Although Miami still has one preseason game remaining, the team is essentially turning its focus this week toward Tampa Bay in the regular season. The Buccaneers were 22nd against the pass last season but have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. Defensively, Gerald McCoy is one of the NFL’s best defensive tackles, Levonte David and Kwon Alexander make up a speedy linebacker group, and Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves are a quality tandem at cornerback.
This is a tough first assignment for Cutler and Miami’s offense. The group has looked explosive in the preseason but aims to fine-tune things over the next two weeks in an effort to get off to a fast start.
“As you get a little bit older, I think you kind of see it as valuable time to work on some stuff, because the stress is off,” Cutler said. “You’re not playing, for the most part. So you can kind of work on some things and help the younger guys a little bit. So that’s what I’m going to try to use the next couple days for.”