Jay Cutler Is Who He Always Was, and That Has NFL Rivals Laughing at Him

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterOctober 6, 2017

Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler throws the football during a training session at Allianz Park in London, Friday Sept. 29, 2017. The Miami Dolphins are preparing for an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints at London's Wembley stadium on Sunday. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
Tim Ireland/Associated Press

Around the NFL, people are laughing at the Dolphins. Flat. Out. Laughing.

The source of the amusement: Jay Cutler.

Cutler has been fairly awful this season, and many around the league can't help but chuckle because they could see it coming. It's not all his fault, these sources say. There are offensive line problems, and Cutler is still rusty after coming out of retirement late in the preseason. Plus, the Dolphins defense has been borderline putrid.

No, it's not all Cutler's fault, but much of it is. One scout pointed to Miami's last game against the Saints as an illustration.

The Dolphins had 1st-and-goal at the New Orleans 4-yard line. Tight end Julius Thomas was split out wide and covered one-on-one. Cutler then proceeded to throw one of the laziest passes you will ever see a quarterback throw. It was off his back foot and he sort of hopped like a gimpy kangaroo. It was the kind of throw Cutler has long made, still makes and, presumably, always will make.

The pass was intercepted.

Then, there was Cutler's infamous hands-on-hips, unmovable statue moment during the Dolphins' running of the Wildcat on Sunday in London. Way to sell it, bro.

Both Cutler and head coach Adam Gase say Cutler was doing exactly as instructed. Sure.

Between chuckles and I-told-you-so's from team executives and scouts, the Cutler experience serves as a reminder of a boisterous message that scouts say organizations, including their own, can always adhere to:

Systems are irrelevant if the talent isn't good enough.

Often, now, that conversation is had in the context of Colin Kaepernick, who continues to sit and wait despite a parade of has-beens and never-will-be's being signed ahead of him. Cutler's name has also started to come up in these conversations.

When Cutler signed with the Dolphins, a key argument in the move's favor was that he had played in Gase's system before when both were in Chicago in 2015. That year, with Gase as his coordinator, Cutler finished with a passer rating of 92.3, the highest of his career. That led, officials around the league told me, to a fallacy that somehow Gase would get the most out of Cutler in Miami.

But that hasn't happened. Cutler's quarterback rating is now 80.4.

There's a lesson here: You are what you are.

Cutler is what he is. He won't change. He can't change.

Yes, there are offensive line problems, but Russell Wilson plays behind a line so bad that it violates the Geneva Conventions, yet Wilson (mostly) still has decent mechanics and listens to coaching. Cutler does not.

When it comes to Cutler, much of the story is as simple as this: Cutler is error-prone and sloppy, and neither Adam Gase nor Adam West nor Adam and Eve can change this. The system is irrelevant if the quarterback is loose with the football and his mechanics.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - AUGUST 17:  Jay Cutler #6 of the Miami Dolphins talks with head coach Adam Gase during a preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens at Hard Rock Stadium on August 17, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Image
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Gase, as you would expect, defended Cutler, telling reporters: "I know where the ball is supposed to go. I know who is supposed to do what on every play. If we protect him and give him a second to throw the ball, we'll be all right. If he is going to get hit from start to finish, I don't care who you put back there.

"We need to do a better job of protecting him and being where we're supposed to be. There are some things footwork-wise he is going to better at. He knows where to go with the ball. We're going to keep working on protecting the football when things break down in the pocket. We can't just let him take hit after hit after hit after hit and expect him to stand in there. It's not going to happen."

Lots of quarterbacks take hit after hit and still "stand in there." Wilson does it. Alex Smith does it. Carson Wentz does it. Steve Young used to get absolutely pulverized. So did Troy Aikman. On and on it goes.

That gets us to the question underpinning all of this:

Why did Cutler come back?

Why not stay on his current track as a Fox television analyst? Why not enjoy the cushy life of a well-paid NFL retiree?

Someone close to Cutler told B/R he simply missed the game and the locker room. This isn't uncommon. Brett Favre retired and un-retired 412 times. Tony Romo has talked on conference calls with the media and elsewhere about how much he misses football.

Despite signing a $10 million deal with the Dolphins, Cutler didn't come back for the paycheck, I'm told. He returned because he loves football, and for that he deserves credit. True, it doesn't always look that way, but only someone who yearns to be on the field would return to the game when he doesn't have to.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01:  (Re-transmission of image #856247554) Jay Cutler #6 of the Miami Dolphins is tackled by Rafael Bush #25 of the New Orleans Saints in the first half during the NFL game between the Miami Dolphins and the New Orleans Saints at
Henry Browne/Getty Images

But, about all that laughing.

It's possible Cutler gets the last one. Who knows? This week, Cutler faces a Tennessee defense that ranks 28th in the league against the pass, has just three interceptions, seven sacks and gives up 274 passing yards a game. There's a chance Cutler could put up some numbers.

In the meantime, the league will sit back and chuckle as Cutler struggles to not look like the Cutler of old.

And that's not funny.

    

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.