When the Oakland Raiders step on the field in Miami Sunday night, once again the fate of their 2017 season is a stake. With a loss, the Raiders will fall to 3-6 and pretty much out of any sort of playoff contention. The Miami Dolphins define the word average as a team. Unfortunately, the Raiders hope to aspire to just reach that level right now. Under center, quarterback Jay Cutler leads the Dolphins offense. Cutler played three years in Denver, from 2006-2008.
Despite playing in the league for twelve years, Cutler earned a reputation as a dislikable malcontent. When you think of leaders at the quarterback spot, names like Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Roethlisberger jump to mind. Although Cutler is relatively young at 34, the perception through his actions and body language does not change.
How does this affect him in Miami? Will the Dolphins rally around Cutler when times during the game get rough? Granted, they are all professionals, but will there be an extra sense of urgency in protecting him? In his past, Cutler shoved his linemen during games. Plus, he agreed to a deal with the Dolphins after signed a TV deal. So, was the ten million the incentive or is the fire to compete still there?
Without a doubt, Cutler possesses a strong arm. At 34, he still makes every throw in the route tree. Additionally, Cutler’s boldness to test defenses vertically poses a problem for the Raiders’ beleaguered secondary. DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills could benefit from the combination of his willingness to push the ball downfield and the Raiders’ absent coverage. To his credit, Cutler’s 7.1 yards per attempt is amazing, considering completing less that 62 percent of his passes. He remains the definition of feast or famine. Honestly, the Raiders’ secondary is not good enough to underestimate him or, frankly, anyone else.
On the other hand, Cutler relies in his arm a bit much. As a result, he will force the ball into small windows, therefore giving defenses opportunities. Under those circumstances, if the Raiders do not emerge with their first interception this week, they may not get one for a while.
As mentioned, despite veteran status, Cutler still gets rattled by the rush. For almost a decade, the Packers harassed him into 22 interceptions, many of those in nationally televised games. Cutler appears to shrink under the heat of TV cameras. This could be another statement game for Khalil Mack in a primetime spot.
The Raiders plan is simple: attack, attack, attack. At 3-5, it’s time to let it all hang out and go for broke. Additionally, once the rush arrives, Cutler reverts to a rookie and throws 50/50 balls. Plus, this game marks his return from cracked ribs. He’ll feel the rush even deeper, trying to protect the ribs.
In essence, Jay Cutler is tailor-made for the Oakland Raiders defense. If they cannot force multiple turnovers from him, then maybe an off-season needs to occur sooner than later. Cutler presents the ability to win a game on defense. Now is the time for the secondary to step up and have at least one big game.