Don’t think so.
Jay Cutler cares very much about playing at a high level, and now there is proof that even his biggest haters can’t ignore.
Cutler was downright fiery Sunday in Atlanta, chopping a first down signal through the air after connecting with Jarvis Landry on a huge late conversion.
The game was tied 17-17 with under five minutes left, and the Dolphins faced third-and-long at the Falcons’ 29.
An incompletion — or worse, a sack — would have set up a challenging field goal for Cody Parkey and left plenty of time for the Falcons to rally.
There was no incompletion. Cutler connected with Landry short of the sticks, but Landry — who never lacks for emotion — broke three tackles and got the first down. Parkey would have an easier kick, which he made, the Dolphins held on to win.
Cutler’s demonstrative reaction probably came as a surprise to those who simply know him by the Smokin’ Jay Cutler meme. Fairly at times, unfairly at others, Cutler been often criticized for poor body language and an air of apathy.
But his emotional reaction Sunday is nothing new, according to both Cutler and his coach, Adam Gase; they worked together one year in Chicago and now again in Miami.
“That's been on tape before,” Cutler said, when asked about his show of emotion. “That's not the first time. I try to stay as calm as possible for these guys, but there's going to come points throughout the season where it'll go the opposite way.”
Added Gase: “That’s all I know. I’ve seen it since I was with him in 2015.”
Still, even Cutler acknowledged that let the world see that side of him to the world that often.
“He’s trying to stay focused in the game, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent,” Gase said. “I kind of saw during the week where I could tell it’s was going to be that kind of game because he was really dialed in during the week.
“It’s good for guys to see him get emotional, especially at the end of that game, when we convert a big first down – or a big third down to get a first down,” Gase continued. “... Just to see him get fired up like that, that’s nothing but good stuff for us.”
Perhaps Cutler has been mellow because he just has not had much to celebrate in his career. Cutler has a 71-73 lifetime record as a starter and has been part of just one playoff team.
And while the Dolphins have real postseason hopes this year, those hopes have not been because of a high-powered offense.
The 20 points they managed Sunday was the most they have scored all year; they are averaging 12.2 per game, easily the fewest in the league.
And Cutler has given his many critics ammunition in his five games with the Dolphins. He ranks last in yards-per-pass (5.2), 30th in passing yards (857, albeit in one fewer game than much of the league), 29th in passer rating (75.2) and 21st in completion percentage (61.6).
Cutler is not solely to blame, certainly. The Dolphins have dropped 10 passes the last two weeks, and Gase said the Dolphins rank last in catchable passes percentage. Mistakes have cost them some 15 first downs, Gase added.
Those have been drive killers, resulting in lopsided time of possession and the meager scoring output.
Cutler has not ripped his teammates for those failures (at least publicly), but instead has tried to encourage those who fall short.
And yes, he asserts himself, when he sees fit.
Leonte Carroo, Miami’s second-round receiver, has an example from Sunday:
“We got back to the huddle, things weren't swinging, [and] he was like, 'Everybody, get back to the huddle and let's get rolling.' And that's the type of guy that he is. It might not seem like it. And also what people don't know is he's a funny guy, too. He's a great guy, he's funny. He does exactly what you need him to do in the right situations.”