A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Friday:
• Jay Cutler is struggling at 34. Tom Brady is thriving at 40.
So when assessing Cutler’s issues this season, age isn’t - and shouldn’t be - an overriding concern.
But Cutler’s age is coming into play in one key area.
Coach Adam Gase has spoken of Cutler learning how to play as a 34-year-old quarterback and he cited one specific example this week.
“I think the biggest thing you try to get used to is in the past, he has been able to hop left, be off balance and throw the ball across the field and the ball would get there with good velocity,” Gase said. “The older you get, the more you have to be able to set your feet, get aligned, make sure you’re using your entire body, because your arm eventually doesn’t give you the juice that you did five years ago, six years ago.
“Sometimes it’s that reminder of, ‘I have to do a good job mechanically – set my feet – to throw an accurate ball with good velocity.’ It just doesn’t happen like it used to. When he sets his feet and he’s aligned, that ball comes in there pretty good. He had some really good throws that we just didn’t come up with. The one he threw to the sideline and Jarvis (Landry) … That thing was moving. When I see him do that, and he’s able to set his feet and be in the right alignment, he has made some really good throws.”
On those throws that are tougher for Cutler to make at this age, Gase said: “We’ve talked about it. The throws that he has made in those positions, not a lot of guys could make them to begin with. Most guys actually do have to set their feet to throw the ball. He does have like a freak gift of being able to really put some juice on the ball. It’s still there. It’s just not always going to come out as clean as he wanted. It’ll be a little inconsistent. That’s just kind of the reality of getting old.”
• Jakeem Grant had being waiting for this chance for more than a year.
After logging only 19 offensive snaps as a rookie and nine in the first three games, Grant was needed for 33 on Sunday against Tennessee after DeVante Parker injured his ankle on Miami’s third offensive play.
But Grant had a potential touchdown catch dislodged and generally wasn’t thrilled with his overall work. And Adam Gase said he probably should have split snaps more evenly between Grant, who played 33, and Leonte Carroo, who logged only four.
On the missed opportunity for a touchdown, Grant said: “I definitely should have caught it. I had it in my hands. To me, it’s a dropped ball even if he broke it. It was definitely catchable. Jay [Cutler] put it on the money. It could have been a big swing in momentum.”
And how did he do overall?
“I did OK,” he said. “There’s room for improvement. I messed up on a couple things. I could have played better.”
Grant was moved from the slot to the boundary in the spring. Does he have everything down about playing the boundary?
“I feel like I have a lot of stuff down but I still have a lot of things to correct as well,” he said. “I don’t have everything perfect. My thing is to strive for perfection. That’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
Improvement must come, he said, in “just making sure I execute my assignment exactly how coaches want me to do. That’s it. I will get those things corrected. They still have a lot of trust in me.”
Cutler said Grant “has huge potential there. He’s so fast. He gets DBs on their heels. He’s able to get in and out of cuts. I mean just watching him on film and seeing him get open, it puts a lot of confidence in me that if we get in a spot like that, he’s going to make plays for us.”
• Gase, on why his run defense is better: “Last year, we just weren’t on the same page. This year we’ve got a group of guys that are working together. Adding some veteran players, especially at the linebacker position, has really helped us. I think having Reshad Jones back really helps us. I think the young corners are doing a good job of not missing tackles. They’re coming up and they’re being effective in the run game. Our defensive line does a really good job. They’re playing unselfish football. They’re making sure that they’re gap responsible and that’s allowing our linebackers to make the plays that they’re making.”
• Gase succinctly summarized Reshad Jones’ value: “The ability to play both in the middle of the field and down in the box are valuable. Any time you have interchangeable safeties, that makes it really tough on the offense. I think the fact that he’s a really good blitzer and when we pressure him, it’s something that he’s really made some money on.
“Last week was a good example of how effective he can be and how devastating that some of the hits he can make on the quarterback. Just having him back there, the intensity, the way that he goes about his business day in and day out, he’s a true pro. For us to have him back, even though he was around last year all the time, just having him on the field makes a big difference.”
• Looks like Anthony Steen has won the left guard job, at least until Ted Larsen returns from an August biceps injury. Larsen is eligible to play in Miami’s eighth game and hopes to be ready by then.
“I thought he was doing well enough to deserve that opportunity to play an entire game [last Sunday], and he did a lot of good things in this last game,” Gase said of Steen. “The thing I’ve always appreciated about him, he’s a fighter. He gives you everything he has. Every week he’s getting better with knowledge of situations.”
• Matt Haack is sixth in the AFC in punting average at 47.4 and the Dolphins are starting to feel good about their decision to keep him over Matt Darr, who worked for the Patriots but this week but is still looking for work.
“He is coming into his own,” special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi said of Haack. “He’s a game changer in my mind.”