Jay Cutler will be the Dolphins’ starting quarterback when he has fully recovered from a concussion. But when that will happen is unknown, coach Adam Gase indicated Monday.
And regardless of whether Cutler or Matt Moore is the starter for the foreseeable future (including Sunday at New England), Gase on Monday revealed what his disappointing offense’s identity should be.
As for Cutler, he left Sunday’s game at halftime after being diagnosed with a concussion. He is in the concussion protocol, but the NFL has told teams not to comment on the progress of players who are in the protocol system.
Though Moore threw for 282 second-half yards and fueled a Dolphins comeback in a losing effort against Tampa Bay, Gase indicated Cutler will start when healthy.
“With him being in the concussion protocol, I don’t know how long this will be,” Gase said. “Jay’s really done everything I’ve asked him to do and there’s no reason for me to say he’s not [the starter].”
Reality TV star Kristin Cavallari, Cutler’s wife, had this cryptic post on Instagram: "Sometimes I wish I could just say how I really feel about this football [expletive] ... And give commentary about what I’m realllllly thinking. How great would that be."
With Cutler primarily behind center, the Dolphins haven’t forged an offensive identity this season, ranking 30th in yards per game and 31st in points per game.
So what is this unit’s identity?
“I think right now it’s, really, we’ve got to use those receivers to our strength,” Gase said. “We have three guys that I have a lot of confidence in. I feel like some of the things that we’re doing where we can get to the backs in the passing game has really helped us.”
But he said Tampa Bay “did a good job of taking those guys [Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake] away, but that’s why we were able to get so many chunk plays on the outside. If you give Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker and Jarvis Landry one-on-one matchups, I feel really good about us being able to move the ball. If we can just clean up some of our turnovers and we can clean up our pre-snap penalties, I think that group is a tough group to stop.
“We have to be able to execute our run game a little bit better to where we can get those 4-, 6-, 12-yard runs. If we can get those two backs to the linebacker and safety level fairly clean, those guys can make you miss and hit some home runs.”
Landry ranks third in the NFL in receptions with 67 and Stills is 22nd in yards (588) and 26th in yards per catch (14.7).
But Parker, who missed three games earlier with an ankle injury, had a hand in two Cutler interceptions Sunday and ranks 67th in yards per catch (11.9). Landry is 122nd in yards per catch at 8.5.
On Cutler’s interception in the end zone, Gase said: “I wish [Parker’s] route was a little bit cleaner … but I wish Jay would have thrown a little bit sooner.”
On the interception that bounced off Parker’s hands, Gase said: “Both of those guys can be a little better on that. Usually DeVante’s been pretty reliable when it involves hitting him in the hands as far as catching it.”
Beyond Cutler’s three interceptions, the running game produced 69 yards on one Williams carry and just 14 yards on 18 other carries.
The other big offensive problem Sunday: The Dolphins committed 17 penalties (most by any team this season) for 123 yards. The Dolphins are now second-most penalized team in the NFL with 84 penalties accounting for 635 yards.
“The total number is getting ridiculous,” Gase said. “It has to start in practice and if we do it right in practice, that gives us an opportunity to do it right in the game. All these things are very fixable.”
The offense had 12 of those penalties, including three each by right guard Jermon Bushrod and left tackle Laremy Tunsil.
“It’s correctable,” Gase said. “It was disappointing that it increased when we kind of made the [quarterback] change at halftime. We got a little out of sorts as far as what was going on with the cadence, which can be easily, easily corrected.
“We try to have all the quarterbacks use the same cadence as Jay does. But each guy can have a different rhythm and that can throw a couple of things off. I’ve never seen it to the extent I saw it yesterday.”