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Gase’s decision to stick with Cutler finally pays off

Roy Cummings



Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire

Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler was booed during by his new home-team fans at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium last Sunday.

You have to believe those same fans eventually would have cheered Cutler had the Dolphins game against the Falcons been played in the same place.

Given the struggling quarterback’s effort in the Dolphins improbable 20-17 victory Sunday, especially in the second half, how could they not have cheered him?

Despite five more drops by his receivers, who dropped five passes last week as well, Cutler completed 19 of 33 throws for 151 yards and two touchdowns against the Falcons.

He also threw an interception, but when you factor in the drops that should have been catches there is no way anyone can look at this effort objectively and say it was anything other than a solid, winning effort by the veteran quarterback.

Was it enough to make those fans who booed and called for Matt Moore to suddenly see why the Dolphins coaches have been so hesitant to turn to Moore?

No, we won’t go there just yet.  But we are starting to see here that the problems the Dolphins have been having on offense have in fact had little to do with the play of the quarterback.

The horrid results the Dolphins have been getting are more a matter of the poor play of the players in front of the quarterback and those running down the field not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

Dolphins coach Adam Gase famously made that point last week when he said things wouldn’t be so bad on offense if the blockers blocked and pass catchers caught the ball.

For those who weren’t buying that; Cutler’s first half Sunday only offered up more proof that Gase was simply playing favorites with an old buddy.

In leading the Dolphins to a 17-0 deficit, Cutler was a strong 8-of-14 for 64 yards but he also had a pick to account for a passer rating of 39.0 in the first half.

Despite those numbers, Gase says the idea of replacing Cutler never crossed his mind on Sunday. Whether that’s true or not, it’s a good thing it didn’t.

Cutler was more like the Cutler the Dolphins were hoping they were going to get in the second half of this game, completing 11-of-19 passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns.

More importantly, he led the charge that allowed the Dolphins to overcome that three-score deficit to win 20-17 Sunday, which just happened to be the largest Cutler has ever overcome in his NFL career.

Being the pro that he is, of course, Cutler lauded the defense for the role it played in the rally more than he lauded the role he or anyone else on the offense played.

Gase did, too, but he wasn’t about to miss out on the opportunity to take a bow for sticking with Cutler when so many thought he should have quit on him.

“I don’t care what anyone says, I’m going to do what I want to do, and what is best for the team,’’ Gase said. “That’s how we operate. That is how we did it last year.

“And I feel like (Cutler) is doing a lot of good things. We just got him in August, and we are a little bit behind from where I thought we would be. Hopefully, this is the first step.

“We put together two good drives (at the end of) the Tennessee game and we had some good things going on today. We didn’t finish our drives in the first half but in the second half, we did.

“The longer we keep going, the better we are going to get, and that is the goal.’’

And for the first time this year, it seems like it’s a goal that, just as Gase said all along, is actually attainable.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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