Armando Salguero

Jay Cutler not getting benched this week, or anytime soon

Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler runs away from Tennessee Titans Adoree Jackson (25) in the third quarter at Hard Rock Stadium Sunday.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler runs away from Tennessee Titans Adoree Jackson (25) in the third quarter at Hard Rock Stadium Sunday. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

It is not Jay Cutler’s fault.

I cannot make it more clear than that. Wait, I can make it more clear.

The Miami Dolphins, seemingly lost on offense and dependent on heroic defense to win a home game, have a fine backup quarterback in Matt Moore. And Moore helped the team close out a playoff run last year by winning two of three regular-season starts. And the crowd at Hard Rock Stadium was chanting Moore’s name Sunday afternoon as Cutler and the rest of the 2017 offense was struggling.

And amid all this apparent evidence that the right thing is to at least consider benching of Cutler and installing Moore in the near future is wise, I was told in no uncertain terms late Sunday evening that is not going to happen.

It’s not going to happen this week.

It’s not going to happen next week.

It’s not happening this season, I was told.

This isn’t outrageous. The Dolphins have set precedent for thinking this way. Last year as the Miami offense was tripping all over itself early in the season, Dolphins coach Adam Gase was asked if he intended to bench Ryan Tannehill. The coach, almost as if insulted by the question, said Tannehill would continue as the quarterback the entire rest of the season if healthy.

And I’m telling you multiple people within the organization said the exact same thing to me about Cutler after the Dolphins squeezed out a 16-10 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

So Jay Cutler, who threw for 92 yards and had a 52.1 rating against Tennessee, is the Dolphins quarterback the rest of the season if he’s healthy.

Embrace it. Accept it if you don’t want to embrace it. Because that’s apparently how it’s going to be.

Jay Cutler, Miami Dolphins quarterback, talks about their disappointing performance in their victory over the Tennessee Titans.

And how does that make any sense, you ask?

Well, the Dolphins believe that’s the right call because things we don’t see from press boxes or stadium seats or on television are forefront in the team’s thinking. And those facts all point to this drought not being Cutler’s fault.

Granted, Cutler isn’t lifting the entire offense on his shoulders and carrying it like Dan Marino did for about a decade during his 17-year career.

But bench Cutler because he’s at the head of a failing unit is like cutting off your nose because it’s prominent on your face as your eyes are having trouble reading.

“If guys would do their job, catch the ball, block the right guys, give the quarterback a chance to do something,” Gase said after the game, the offense would be fine.

“Jay’s way down on the list of things going wrong,” the coach added.

That list of things failing is indeed kind of long. You cannot bench Cutler when a third-down play goes wrong because the player who was supposed get the ball lined up in the wrong place and obviously never ended up where Cutler expected him to be.

You cannot bench Cutler when the Dolphins had five dropped passes the game.

You cannot bench Cutler when four of those drops came in a seven-play span.

You cannot bench Cutler when receivers -- rarely the same guy, by way -- don’t run the patterns they’re supposed to or don’t do it as they’ve been coached.

You cannot bench Cutler when offensive linemen don’t give him enough time. Cutler was sacked only once Sunday. The Dolphins counted four plays in which he took the snap and a Tennessee defender was on him before he set his back foot to throw.

Adam Gase, Miami Dolphins coach, defends quarterback Jay Cutler on his performance in their victory over the Tennessee Titans. The fans chanted for backup quarterback Matt Moore to replace Cutler.

“I speak only for myself,” said stand-up guy Jermon Bushrod. “I know I was on the wrong guy once. And it’s different guys having the same problem. You go through a game with 60 to 65 plays and you have 20 to 25 plays where one guy is messing up, that’s hard.

“So what’s the goal? Next week make it 15 plays. Make it 10. You want perfection but that’s not reality. You’re going to get physically beat every once in a while. Coaches are not OK if you get beat physically, but when you’re not on the right guy, that’s when they really are not OK with it. Because you’re not putting yourself in the right position to succeed and help your team.”

Gase admitted during his press conference he cut down the offense before this game to make it easier for players to understand their assignments. The Dolphins scored one offensive touchdown. Last week the coach did the same thing and the team was shut out. So that hasn’t been the answer.

The really frustrating thing for the Dolphins is they have no answer. None.

The Dolphins don’t know how to fix the problem. They cannot bench starters who are clearly better than any player behind them. They cannot dumb-down the offense so much that defenses know what’s coming. Jay Ajayi isn’t the issue, either, because he is a force for good on this team even though he had a fumble Sunday.

So obviously fans are looking sideways at Cutler. He’s an easy target. And he admitted the unit played “piss poor” against the Titans and accepted responsibility for some of the problems.

But there’s a difference between being responsible and being to blame. The Dolphins know Cutler isn’t to blame. They say they are certain of it.

They know it’s not Jay Cutler’s fault.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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