Some Dolphins notes on a Friday morning:
• I’ve never been a big believer in bulletin board material. But Chargers defensive standout Melvin Ingram certainly provided some for the Dolphins with his brief exchange with Chargers reporters on Thursday.
On Thursday, when he was asked about the problems Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler presents, he gave a one word answer:
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The Dolphins and Chargers play on Sunday in Los Angeles.
But keep this in mind: The last time Cutler played San Diego - in November 2015, he completed 27 of 40 passes for 345 yards, two touchdowns (including a game-winning one early in the fourth quarter) and an interception in the Bears' 22-19 win over the Chargers. Adam Gase was the Bears’ offensive coordinator that year.
Ingram had five tackles, no sacks and one forced fumble in that game.
• CBS’ Rich Gannon, who usually provides dead-on analysis, shared his thoughts on the Dolphins in a phone conversation:
“I just think it's a great opportunity for Jay Cutler," he said. "This is the best team he's played with by far. You look at the defense and perimeter people and Jay Ajayi. I think it's a really good situation, a once in a lifetime opportunity and a chance to change the opinion of a player that quite frankly fizzled out at the end of it in Chicago. This is a chance to create a legacy for himself and rewrite the script on who he was as a player and a leader.”
But, Gannon said: "Regardless of who he played with in Chicago, his production late in games concerns me. His accuracy, I think he can be a very accurate guy. He's got the arm talent. He’s not afraid to stick it in a tight window. He still has some athleticism and ability to move and escapability in the pocket. Still pretty athletic back there. He's seen it all. His ability to process information, his history with Adam, is important. He finally has got a really good running game and he's got some perimeter people he can hang his hat on."
But what about the defense?
"Defensively, they've underperformed in recent years," Gannon said. "They've got to play better if they want to get where they want to go. It all starts with the run defense and that's been their glaring weakness the past couple years. And if you can't stop the run, then you can't get after the passer. I want to see early on when they get tested, how good this run defense can be. You've got the bodies. You've got the personnel to do it."
Is this a wild card contender? "I think so if they can stay healthy. Can they win 10 or 11 games and get in the playoffs? I think this team is good enough but a lot depends on how Jay plays.
“The difference between a 10-6 team and 6-10 isn't that much. Can Jay take care of the football? Can Jay direct a two-minute drive at the end of the game to win it? That's what you need to see out of him. It's going to be really important that he plays well first two three games, that the team gains confidence in him."
• This is worrisome: Though Lawrence Timmons and Rey Maualuga have strong reputations as run stoppers, both were rated among the bottom five against the run at their positions by Pro Football Focus last season. Maualuga might be out Sunday; he missed the past two days of practice with a hamstring injury.
Beyond the front seven concerns, Miami’s defensive backfield must be better against the run. Among 98 cornerbacks last season, PFF ranked Byron Maxwell 85th, Bobby McCain 93rd and now-injured Tony Lippett 94th against the run.
Losing Reshad Jones for the final 10 games was hurtful; he’s always in the top third of safeties against the run and was 26th last season.
What’s worrisome is that the new safeties graded poorly against the run last season, per PFF – Nate Allen was 71st and T.J. McDonald (on suspension the first eight games of 2017) was 83rd. New cornerback Alterraun Verner was 66th (for Tampa Bay last season).