DAVIE—Fundamentals never mattered much to Jay Cutler, but it’s time for him to start paying closer attention to his mechanics at 34 years old.
The late stage of a career always presents a challenge to athletes as they wrestle with their declining physical abilities, and Dolphins coach Adam Gase has been walking Cutler through that over the past two months. There are chaotic throws he used to make, for example, that aren’t as easy to pull off anymore.
“The biggest thing you try to get used to is, in the past he’s been able to hop left, be on-balance and throw the ball across the field and the ball will get there with good velocity,” Gase said. “The older you get, the more you have to be able to set your feet, get aligned, make sure that you’re using your entire body because your arm eventually doesn’t give you the juice that it did five or six years ago.”
Cutler’s had a rough start to the season and ranks 30th in the league in passer rating. That’s not entirely his fault because, among other issues, the offensive line has struggled.
A younger version of Cutler would have been better equipped to deal with that duress, which is where Gase’s point comes into play.
“Sometimes it’s that reminder of, ‘I have to do a good job mechanically of setting my feet to throw an accurate ball with good velocity,’” Gase said. “It just doesn’t happen like it used to. When he sets his feet and he’s aligned, that ball comes in there pretty good—and he had some really good throws that we just didn’t come up with. The one he threw to the sideline to Jarvis (Landry), that thing was moving. When I see him do that and he’s able to set his feet and be in the right alignment, then he’s made some really good throws.”
The play Gase referenced with Landry occurred in Sunday’s 16-10 win over Tennessee. In the third quarter, Cutler fired one right through Landry’s hands that would’ve gone for a 13-yard pickup.
That’s the throwing speed Gase wants to see more often, and the way to get it consistently is to focus on better form. Again, Cutler has never been a model quarterback in terms of mechanics, but he needs to change his mindset at this juncture of his career.
“We’ve talked about it,” Gase said. “The throws that he’s made in those positions are—Not a lot of guys could make them to begin with. Most guys actually do have to set their feet to throw the ball. He does have a freak gift of being able to really put some juice on the ball. It’s still there, it’s just not always going to come out as clean as he wants it. It’ll be a little inconsistent. That’s just kinda the reality of getting old.”
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