The Miami Dolphins fell to 1-1 on the season with a 20-6 loss to the New York Jets. With quarterback Jay Cutler under center, Miami was nearly shut out for the first time since Dec. 22, 2013.
Cutler failed to build off a solid performance in the season opener. After studying the film, here is a breakdown of Cutler’s outing against the Jets:
Stats: 26 of 44, 220 yards, one touchdown, one interception, 70.3 passer rating
Best throw: There weren’t many impressive throws this week from Cutler, whose accuracy was off much of the game. Only one pass completion for Cutler went more than 20 yards, and it came on the final drive of the game. Cutler made an excellent, back-shoulder throw for 26 yards with receiver DeVante Parker, who made the adjustment up the right sideline. The pass and timing showed a flash of Cutler's arm talent on a day when Miami's starting quarterback couldn't get much else going. Cutler did complete 8 of 10 passes to Parker as they continue to build their chemistry.
Worst throw: Cutler’s first interception of the season was a doozy. At the 4:37 mark of the fourth quarter, he stepped up in the pocket and threw an awful pass short to Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry, which was intercepted by Jets defensive back Terrence Brooks. Cutler also had a terrible throw at the 8:47 mark of the third quarter, when he made a high-arcing pass to avoid a flush hit. But there were three Jets defenders in the vicinity of Parker, who didn't have a chance because the ball was underthrown. That was another clear example of Cutler being bothered by the pressure, which we will elaborate on below.
What I liked overall: Cutler showed he still has some toughness. He was sacked three times and took seven hits. Some were big shots, but Cutler hung tough in the pocket to reel off 44 pass attempts. Cutler also fought until the final drive, when the game was 20-0 and out of hand. He took the Dolphins 80 yards on eight plays, capped by a 3-yard touchdown throw to Parker as time expired. Cutler was 5-of-6 passing for 53 yards on that final drive. Perhaps that provides momentum and confidence for Miami’s offense for the next game.
What I didn’t like overall: Unlike last week, Cutler was completely out of rhythm and didn’t look smooth. The Jets rocked Cutler early with a few big hits and he never looked the same against the blitz. Dolphins coach Adam Gase said Monday that it's more difficult for Cutler to take those hits at age 34 than it was at 25. According to Pro Football Focus, Cutler was 4-of-13 for 26 yards and the late touchdown against New York’s pressure packages. That has to improve as more teams will implement a similar strategy. Cutler’s accuracy also suffered, and his mechanics became sloppy as the physical wear and tear, and perhaps fatigue, set in. The Dolphins cannot afford to have “good Jay Cutler” and “bad Jay Cutler” alternate each week to be consistently successful.
What’s next: Cutler and the Dolphins (1-1) will travel their third week in a row, heading to London to play the New Orleans Saints (1-2). New Orleans is coming off its best game of the season with a 34-13 win over the Carolina Panthers. Cutler must be sharper this week because he could find himself in a shootout with Saints quarterback and future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.