Barry Jackson

Here’s exactly how Gase helped Cutler; Cutler chatter

Quarterback Jay Cutler talks to the media at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, FL, Aug. 7, 2017. Cutler is at the Miami Dolphins training facility in talks with the team about a quarterback position.
Quarterback Jay Cutler talks to the media at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, FL, Aug. 7, 2017. Cutler is at the Miami Dolphins training facility in talks with the team about a quarterback position. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of Jay Cutler nuggets:

• Here’s where Adam Gase most helped Cutler as his offensive coordinator in 2015: Reducing mistakes.

His 11 interceptions that year were his fewest in a season in which he played more than 10 games.

ESPN’s KC Joyner, who charts every throw, said Cutler’s bad decision rate dropped from 1.5 in 2014 to 0.8 in his one year with Gase, which was ninth-best in the league and tied with Aaron Rodgers.

For perspective, Ryan Tannehill’s bad decision rate was 1.2 last season, 23rd in the league.

“What Adam did with Jay was kind of take the ball out of his hands a little bit,” Chicago radio personality and former Bears receiver Tom Waddle, who previously co-hosted Cutler’s radio show, said on ESPN Radio.

“They didn’t ask Jay to do too much. It was more about mistake elimination. And in Miami, there’s more to work with than in the 2015 season [with Chicago].”

Gase, Waddle said, “leveled out his performance,” joking “you had to get an air sickness bag” with Cutler before Gase arrived because there were so many highs and lows.

Cutler, at his news conference on Monday, said Gase “does a good job of putting quarterbacks in good position.”

Gase, asked Monday what he specifically did to make Cutler more efficient, said: “We talked a lot about how I called plays and how he thought about plays. We did some things to change up how we were doing things. I was very aware of some of the things, whether he liked or disliked, within a game and may have voided a few things. The longer we were really practicing, and I was calling plays, we did a lot of things where we didn’t script anything.

“We just called it so he could get a really good feel for me and same thing for me to get a feel for him. It was really good communication there. We knew we had to really expedite the process because we didn’t have a lot of time. It just felt like we were going to be at the season so fast. He did a great job of communicating with me of, ‘This one is not really my favorite, but I like these following plays.’ We just leaned on those. He did a great job. He protected the ball. We had a ton of injuries. There were receivers moving in and out. He just never blinked.”

• But it’s not like Gase went ultra-conservative with Cutler, either.

Chicago went 6-9 with Cutler in that 2015 season (he missed one game), and he threw 43, 45, 40, 24, 31 and 27 passes in those six wins.

What’s more, in that one season under Gase, Cutler threw 73 passes that traveled in the air least 20 yards. He completed or benefited from a defensive penalty on 30 of those 73 passes in those 15 games, Joyner tells me.

That’s far more deep throws per game than Tannehill attempted last season.

Tannehill played in only 13 games in 2016 but would have projected to 47 deep throws in 15 games. Nineteen of Tannehill’s 41 passes of 20 plus yards were successful for Miami’s offense last season.

The caveat: Cutler was trailing in more games in 2015 than Tannehill was last season, which would lend itself to a few more deep throws for Cutler.

• One concern, besides Cutler’s uneven play over the years: He hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2009.

He has missed 26 games this decade, including 10 last year and had shoulder surgery eight months ago. He said he was medically cleared in March.

• Not everyone is convinced about this move.

“I would be concerned about his past injuries and a layoff even though it was short,” Jimmy Johnson emailed.

ESPN’s Football Power Index dropped Miami’s projected wins from 7.3 to 7.0.

Tight end Martellus Bennett, who played with Cutler for three years in Chicago, last year told ESPN: "I'd be open and he'd throw into double coverage.”

Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett told ESPN that Cutler “is the worst quarterback in the NFL.”

• Others were more optimistic.

“I think the familiarity between Gase and Cutler, and Cutler knowing the offense trumps any other evaluation,” NFL Network analyst and former Baltimore coach Brian Billick emailed. “This has to be the most comfortable scenario for Gase and the Dolphins.”

Though Cutler’s 85.7 career passer rating is pedestrian, it’s higher than Joe Flacco’s and Eli Manning’s.

“I don’t expect greatness but I don’t expect this to blow up on the Dolphins,” said Waddle, who has watched Cutler closely for years. “He’s got three really good wide receivers [and tight end]… Julius Thomas.

“People will be surprised the athlete [Cutler] is even at 34. They are getting a more mature [player] emotionally than when he got to Chicago, a better leader. He’s a little older and wiser and calmer. At his best, Cutler is significantly better than Matt Moore. They are a quintessential middle of the pack team – 8-8, maybe 9-7.”

Gase said of Cutler: “He can make every throw you want. Has good movement skills, good pocket presence, knows how to adjust to offenses and has been in quite a few. He fits in well with what we do without us really changing much. He has a really good grasp of our scheme. It’s a good fit for us.”

• Cutler’s $3 million in bonuses break down this way, per CBS’ Jason La Canfora:

He gets $1 million if plays 75% of the snaps and Miami ranks in the top 10 in TDs.

He gets $1 million if he plays 75% and the Dolphins make playoffs.

He gets $1 million if he plays 75% percent and Miami wins one playoff game.

Here’s news from the Dolphins’ first depth chart of the season and Calvin Johnson tutoring Fins receivers... Here’s a look at the financial predicament regarding Ryan Tannehill for 2018 and beyond... And here’s my post today with UM nuggets, including two key oral commitments ready to check out the Gators.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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