Falcons have plenty of respect for Dolphins' Jay Cutler

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- When Atlanta Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen looks at Jay Cutler, he doesn't see a quarterback who threw for just 92 yards had a quarterback rating of 52.1 in the Miami Dolphins' win last week over the Tennessee Titans.

What Allen sees in the Miami signal-caller is a guy who last thrived under Dolphins head coach Adam Gase when Gase was the offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears. Allen also sees a guy who made the Pro Bowl in 2008 with the Denver Broncos.

"I don't care what no one says, Jay Cutler was a good quarterback in this league," Allen said. "He has the arm. He still has all the experience that he [had when he] was considered one of the elite and one of the best quarterbacks in this league. And when he had Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and those kind of guys, he made those throws. He made those throws without [them]."

Cutler, now in his 12th season, was headed to the broadcast booth before Ryan Tannehill underwent season-ending knee surgery. Gase lured Cutler out of retirement, figuring Cutler could run the offense effectively. But Cutler and the Dolphins enter Sunday's game in Atlanta ranked at the bottom of the league in scoring (10.3 ppg.), yards per game (231.3 ypg.), passing yards per game (156.5 ypg.), first down per game (15.0), and third-down conversions (25 percent).

Cutler, whose timing appears to be off with his receivers, has as many touchdowns (three) as interceptions. He's thrown 149 career interceptions, which is the seventh-most among active players.

Allen doesn't view Cutler as a turnover machine, with the Falcons having just two takeaways and six giveaways this season.

"Me, I'm the type of person, I look at everybody and I give them all the respect [I] can," Allen said. "If I give you the utmost respect, and then we play good against you, we just look better. You go out there and you talk bad about somebody and you say, 'He can't do this and he can't do that,' and he comes out there and throws 500 yards and 5 touchdowns ... you just look crazy.

"Jay Cutler, yes, he's thrown interceptions. But, yes, he has thrown touchdowns. This is his offensive coordinator that he had his best year with. ... I don't count him out at all. I never do."

Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel is rather familiar with Cutler. Manuel was a strong safety for the Broncos in 2008, the same year Cutler was a Pro Bowler.

"I remember when I first got to Denver and Jay was there, ultimate competitor," Manuel said. "Jay is a gunslinger. You've got to understand that and understand that the first four games that he's played, he didn't really have a preseason. He really didn't have an offseason. But the guy is a true competitor. And he won't ever let that part down. ... The guys can make every throw, and he's going to compete to the last whistle."

Cutler targeted wide receiver Jarvis Landry a team-high 10 times last week, and Landry caught five passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. In a loss to the New York Jets, Cutler targeted Landry 11 times and targeted DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills 10 times each. Parker did not practice Wednesday coming off an ankle injury.

On paper, it would make sense for the Dolphins to try establish running back Jay Ajayi, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season. But the run hasn't worked well for the Dolphins, either, sitting 31th in the league at 74.8 rushing yards per game.