Cutler, who has been contacted by Miami coach Adam Gase, is inclined to stick with his broadcasting job at Fox for now rather than return to football. He played 11 years for Denver and Chicago, dealing with several injuries along the way. He appeared in just five games last season, completing 59.1 percent of his passes and throwing for four touchdowns against five interceptions.
Gase said this afternoon he had one conversation with Cutler this week, and he expressed interest in joining the Dolphins. It’s more complicated, though, than simply reuniting him with his former offensive coordinator. He would have to come in at a reasonable salary for Miami, and Gase said the team needs to know Ryan Tannehill’s status before it can be straightforward in conversations with any free agent.
Gase also doesn’t buy any reports on where Cutler stands, because he doesn’t think Cutler would relay those thoughts to reporters.
“I know this: The comments about him in the media–it’s not like he’s talking to anybody,” Gase said. “I know that, because that’s not who he is. If he’s got something to say, he’ll talk to me. I know we had a good conversation and I know where everything stands with that.”
Tannehill will be out significant time, but it’s possible he could come back a month or so into the season. That scenario might not be enticing. The Dolphins are also weighing season-ending surgery.
For now, longtime backup Matt Moore is Miami’s starter. He’s been with the team seven years and replaced Tannehill after his injury last December.
MIAMI GARDENS—The Dolphins came into this offseason with big ambitions about what their offense would do in its second year under Adam Gase and felt so confident about their personnel that they brought back nine of their 11 starters.
That confidence hasn’t changed despite Ryan Tannehill going down with a knee injury this week. Jarvis Landry, the team’s best offensive player, said any competent quarterback—be it Jay Cutler or Matt Moore—should thrive while surrounded by him, Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Jay Ajayi and Julius Thomas.
“Absolutely,” Landry said this afternoon. “For us, no matter who’s the quarterback, it’s finding a way to complement each other and make plays for each other. That’s what it’s all about. For us, right now, it’s stacking each and every day together.”
The Dolphins aren’t sure whether Tannehill will be out for the year, but they know he’ll be out long enough to necessitate a free agent signing.
He spent the offseason rehabbing his left knee and believed he was back to full strength at the start of training camp, but it gave out on him Thursday morning. At a minimum, Tannehill will miss two months.
“It’s hard,” said Landry, who has been his teammate for four years. “It’s hard to see anybody go through what Ryan’s going through, but all I can do is pray for him and continue to encourage him and let him know that this team has his back and we stand behind him.”
Moore is running the first-string offense for now, and that provides continuity. He’s been the Dolphins’ backup since 2011 and took over when Tannehill went down in December. He closed out a win in the Arizona game and went 2-1 as a starter to get Miami in the playoffs.
He completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 721 yards and had eight touchdowns against three interceptions before the Dolphins lost to Pittsburgh in the postseason.
“Matt’s a gunslinger, man,” Landry said. “He’s a guy with high energy. He commanded the huddle. You see him making plays out here, so we’ve gotta make plays for him. We all help each other out in that way.
“We all have a good chemistry. You guys have seen it. We run routes with Matt.”
MIAMI GARDENS—Jay Cutler’s been called a lot of things. He’s been cast as uncoachable, a poor teammate and generally unlikable. Some of that has come from the media, some from guys who played with him.
But Dolphins right guard Jermon Bushrod said none of those portrayals proved accurate during his year as Cutler’s teammate in Chicago. Bushrod and Cutler played together with Adam Gase as the offensive coordinator in 2015, and as Miami considers signing him, Bushrod would welcome the reunion.
“I think Jay’s a hardworking guy and a very smart quarterback,” he said this afternoon. “No disrespect, but you know the media will portray an image and keep that going and keep that going.
“But when I got to Chicago, the guy that I saw was a family-oriented man who fought to get better on the football field daily. I enjoyed playing with him. I appreciated his toughness. He’s a good dude. I enjoyed my time with Jay. He’s very misunderstood by people in some aspects.”
The Dolphins know that starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be out long-term, but they aren’t sure yet if he’ll miss the entire season. Gase needs clarity on that before he adds a quarterback, but said for sure the team will need to pick somebody up. One reason he’s waiting is so he can be upfront in his conversations with potential free agents.
The team has been in contact with multiple unsigned quarterbacks, and Gase said he spoke personally with Cutler this week. They had one preliminary conversation, and Cutler expressed interest in returning.
Last time they were together, Cutler completed 64.4 percent of his passes, had 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and the highest passer rating of his 11-year career at 92.3. Last season, when he dealt with injuries, he had five interceptions and four touchdowns in five games.
If that’s the route Miami goes, Bushrod doesn’t foresee any problems in the locker room or with the coaches.
“I can only go off my experience with him, and when I got there, he welcomed me with open arms,” he said. “We never had any problems internally. It was a good relationship. He had a good relationship with the offensive line.
“Things happen and people will feel a certain way about an individual, but when Gase was there with Jay that year, he had one of his best years in the league. They thought he was done, but when Gase was there he played well. And he did everything the coaching staff asked of him.”
DAVIE–The Dolphins occasionally bring in players to work out, even if they’re not immediately looking for someone at that position, just in case something happens.
Something did happen this week, and it’s imperative that they explore contingencies. While much uncertainty swirls around Ryan Tannehill’s knee injury, what’s clear is Miami needs to be fully prepared for an extended absence.
Dolphins coach Adam Gase said this morning it’s possible Tannehill will rehab and try to play, perhaps a month or so into the season, but there’s a real threat that he’s out for the year. Either way, it shifts career backup Matt Moore into the starting job, and Gase isn’t locking himself into that for the long term.
“Right now, Matt is our quarterback,” he said. “We’ll see where we go from there because I’ve gotta figure out what’s going on with Ryan.”
The Dolphins felt fine about a plan of Tannehill starting and Moore being available in a pinch, but that’s no longer realistic. Time is a factor, too. Getting someone here quickly would allow him to get five weeks of practice and four preseason games.
If Miami was going through this same situation at linebacker, for example, there’s no doubt management would’ve already made some phone calls.
“We do it quite a bit with a lot of different positions, and some don’t make as much news as others,” Gase said last week when the team brought in some cornerbacks for tryouts. “We’re always making sure that we’ve got our ducks in a row… When you start working guys out, you get information on them, physicals, and everybody’s kind of on the same page there and you can react a little quicker (if a need arises).”
The quarterback position is different in the sense that teams are more cognizant of egos, but it’s also different in that it’s the most critical role on the field. It’s not a spot where feelings can supersede merit. Moore knows that, and given how he’s carried himself in seven years with the Dolphins, there’s no chance he’d bristle at competition.
And it’s not just about Moore. Remember that he exited briefly in the Pittsburgh game last year, leaving Miami with recently signed journeyman T.J. Yates in a playoff game. As it stands, that responsibility would fall to practice squad quarterback Brandon Doughty.
The most notable names available are flawed, which is why they’re available.
Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned because he’s an erratic player and some teams are likely turned off by his political stances. Every team in the league had a chance at Jay Cutler and none were interested, leaving him to join Fox as a broadcaster. Former rookie of the year Robert Griffin III? Even the lowly Browns think they’re better off without him.
Maybe Gase believes he can fix one of those guys. It’s not simply weighing the addition of Kaepernick, it’s the luster of imagining what Gase might do with him. That’s a big part of what the Dolphins pay him to do, and he made headway with Tannehill last season just like he did with Cutler the year before as the Bears’ offensive coordinator.
Cutler, 34, was thought to be on his way down when Gase got ahold of him in Chicago, but they turned it around. He posted a career-high 92.3 passer rating, had one of his best years in terms of completion percentage and interceptions.
“I love Jay, but I do like the situation that we’ve got going on right now at our place,” Gase said in March.
The Kaepernick option lingers because his upside is bigger than any of the available free agents and even some back-end starters, and owner Stephen Ross has supported his own players’ right to protest by kneeling for the national anthem.
Kaepernick, who managed a 90.7 passer rating in 12 games for the dreadful 49ers, might force him to reconsider.
Miami might be the only franchise in the league justified in excluding Kaepernick for non-football reasons. He wore a Fidel Castro t-shirt to a press conference last year and later defended some of Castro’s policies, though he eventually clarified that he wasn’t on board with any of Castro’s oppressive methods. That’s a line that can’t be crossed down here. So not only would Gase be tasked with a reclamation project, but the public relations staff would have to find a way to make him palatable to South Florida.
A training camp invitation from the Dolphins should be attractive to any veteran who still wants to play, even without any assurances of starting. This is far different than a mid-season emergency. A player like Cutler, for example, would have a legitimate amount of time to compete with Moore leading up to the Sept. 10 season opener, and that shouldn’t be daunting if he’s as good as he thinks he is.
Several Dolphins declined to talk today about the hypothetical of a new arm coming in, likely out of loyalty to the guys already on the roster, but there was an overall sense of needing to get closure at the position and proceed with getting ready for the season.
“We’ve got to figure out what’s going on with our guy first before we can even start to speculate what’s going to happen in that aspect,” said left guard Jermon Bushrod, who played with Cutler in Chicago and called him a great competitor. “We’re going to let this situation play out and then you can ask me as many questions as you want.”
Tannehill isn’t the difference between making the Super Bowl or not, but they’re a playoff contender with him and probably not without him. That’s what’s at stake here for the Dolphins, who endured an eight-year postseason drought before last year. Their personnel is good enough and there’s enough value in continuing to make progress under Gase that it mandates them doing everything they can to ensure they’ve got the best possible quarterback under these circumstances.
Adam Gase is two years removed from coaching Jay Cutler but he’s still in Cutler’s corner.
That was obvious Friday when Gase, the Chicago Bears’ offensive coordinator before coming to the Dolphins, was asked his reaction to Cutler retiring and signing to become a game analyst for Fox.
First Gase said he wouldn’t have been surprised even in their days together if he’d been told Cutler’s path would lead into TV. Then Gase went on the offensive to shatter the public perception of Cutler as aloof, especially for a quarterback.
“I guess I know a different guy than what everybody portrays,” Gase said. “A lot of things that have been said about him in the past has been (B.S.).”
Cutler became a member of the media after failing to catch on with another team, but Gase said he couldn’t speak to why that was because “I don’t really know all the situations” that led to retirement.
PHOENIX—Adam Gase reached out to free agent quarterback Jay Cutler this offseason, but he wanted to make sure it’s clear that it was simply as a friend.
The Dolphins have not and will not pursue Cutler, who played for Gase in Chicago. Gase texted him after the Bears cut him simply to offer any assistance in researching possible landing spots.
“It was more of, ‘If you’re going somewhere and you need to know anything about any organization or coaching staff, just holler at me and I’ll give you what I know,’” Gase said this morning at the Arizona Biltmore. “I’ve never brought up anything about coming with us because I like our situation. I love Jay, but I do like the situation we’ve got going on now at our place.”
The Dolphins go into the season with Ryan Tannehill as their starter and they are planning on him being fully recovered from the Grade 2 sprain in his left knee that ended last season. They are also content with 10-year veteran Matt Moore as their backup.
Cutler, who turns 34 in a month (Moore is a year younger), played five games for Chicago last season and had four touchdowns, five interceptions and 1,059 yards. There has been minimal reported interest in him.
That doesn’t make sense to Gase, who was the Bears’ offensive coordinator in 2015 when Cutler put up a 92.3 passer rating and had the second-lowest interception percentage of his career.
“My experience with him was very good,” Gase said. “I don’t get all the hatred towards him. I see a guy that worked hard and did everything he could to help his team win and sacrifice his body. To me, he was an athletic quarterback that could throw the ball, and when you got to third down you could call the worst play possible and he was still gonna get you the conversion. He made a lot of the things that we did look really good.
“I guess I just don’t get it. I think he has a lot to offer a team. I think he’s a starting quarterback in the NFL, but that’s just my opinion.”
Gase doesn’t know whether Cutler still wants to play or whether he’d be willing to accept a backup role.
“It’s not as easy as people think it would be when you’ve been a starter for your entire career to all of the sudden be like, ‘Ok, I’m just gonna be a backup,’” Gase said. “If that’s a role that he wanted to do, he’d probably be good, but if that’s not where his mind’s at, then I wouldn’t see him wanting to do that.”
Regardless of his season-ending knee injury, the Dolphins seem confident in Ryan Tannehill as their quarterback of the future. There’s good reason for them to believe in him, especially after the strides he made under Adam Gase, and it appears he’s on track to be full strength for next season.
The only caution when it comes to proceeding with Tannehill is that Miami must essentially double his salary to keep him, which means absorbing a cap hit of $20.3 million for 2017.
DAVIE—Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen is to averse to watching Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill lower his shoulder on a run that he joked — maybe it was a joke — that his kidneys hurt when he sees it.
First-year coach Adam Gase brings with him to Miami a reputation for being a bit of a “quarterback whisperer.” But is that reputation quantifiable?
Many expect — or, at least, hope — that under Gase’s tutelage Ryan Tannehill will improve statistically in 2016.
The 38-year-old Gase has worked directly with three starting quarterbacks since 2010, whether as an offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach. And if past experience is any indicator, Tannehill’s numbers may well improve this fall.
Let’s take a closer look at how the new Dolphins coach helped his three previous QBs.
In 2010, the year before Adam Gase became the Broncos quarterbacks coach, Tebow played nine games, starting three, and threw for 654 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions, all while completing 50 percent of his passes.
In 2011, his first season working directly with Gase, Tebow threw for 1,729 yards in 11 starts and improved his touchdown-to-interception ratio, throwing for 12 TDs and six interceptions. He did see a decrease in his completion percentage, which dropped to 46.5 percent, but he managed to lead his team to a 7-4 record in his starts.
When Peyton Manning left the Indianapolis Colts for the Denver Broncos after missing the 2011 season due to neck surgery, he teamed up with Gase. In 2010, his last full year in Indianapolis, Manning started all 16 games and threw for 4,700 yards, 33 touchdowns and 17 interceptions while completing 66.3 percent of his passes.
In his first season under Gase in 2012, Manning improved his accuracy, completing 68.5 percent of his passes and lowering his interception total to 11.
It wasn’t until the next season under Gase when Manning posted the highest single-season yard total of his career, throwing for 5,477 yards. In that season, Manning also threw for 342.3 yards per game, 55 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions.
Gase spent one season as the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears. In 2014, the year before Gase arrived, Jay Cutler threw for 3,812 yards in 15 games, completing 66 percent of his passes. He also threw for 28 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
The following year, in Gase’s first season with Cutler, he threw for fewer yards than he did the previous season, gaining 3,659 yards through the air. He also threw 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while completing 64.4 percent of his passes. Despite his drop in several statistical categories, Cutler had the best quarterback rating of his career, 92.3.
“I’m very happy for Adam. Adam had a great impact on me during our three years together here in Denver as my quarterbacks coach and then as offensive coordinator. He’s an extremely hard worker, a grinder. He’s extremely bright on all things football, an excellent communicator and always eager to learn more. He asks a lot of questions and writes everything down. I’ve always been impressed with his work ethic and his eagerness to learn more. He’ll be an excellent head coach, without a doubt. He is ready for this for sure.”
Broncos President John Elway, via denverbroncos.com
Steve Mariucci, NFL Network analyst, via miamidolphins.com
Mariucci was Lions head coach and was impressed when Gase asked for a coaching job:
“What I got out of that meeting (was) it’s unusual for a young guy to go to a head coach behind closed doors and say, ‘Hey, I want a job. Hire me, please. I’ll do whatever.’ So I created a job for him in coaching. I took him away from scouting and put him on the coaching staff as a quality control coach to get his feet wet and work hard and do whatever we asked him to do. I felt that he was very ambitious. I felt that he was very bright and he wanted to work. He was a very young, ambitious, bright kid.
“He retained knowledge and applies what he’s learned and has kind of formulated his own offense and his own way of teaching. I think the players will respond to him. He’s been around some really good quarterbacks, obviously. So I think that Ryan Tannehill will be very, very happy with him and his offense.”
QB Jay Cutler, via chicagobears.com
“I couldn’t be happier for Adam and his family. He has worked extremely hard his entire career and is very deserving of this opportunity. I wish he could stay with us in Chicago, but everyone has a journey and this is the next part of his.
“His work with quarterbacks is well documented and I know firsthand how good he is. He will now continue to have success in this league as a head coach. I thank him for all his hard work and look forward to following this next step in his career.”
Gase establishes record for Dolphins
Adam Gase becomes the youngest head coach in Dolphins history (excluding interim coaches).