Ever since Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a knee injury last week, the writing was on the wall that the team would make a bold move under center.
Word on Tannehill’s exact injury and recovery timeline has been fuzzy, which naturally delayed any real movement on Miami’s part. Despite the Tannehill verdict being slow to trickly out, the Dolphins couldn’t prevent rumors swirling about what they might do with their top quarterback possibly lost for the season.
Given Miami head coach Adam Gase’s ties to former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, the retired passer was one obvious name to consider.
Cutler’s run in Chicago ended with a thud in 2016, as the Bears weren’t competitive and a rash of injuries and turnovers had him on his last legs in the NFL.
Always blessed with loads of talent, a 34-year old Cutler couldn’t find the right gig or the cash he wanted in free agency, and instead opted to call it a career.
While Cutler has had his issues, he does offer upside due to his general experience, familiarity with Gase’s system and obvious talent.
It’s still worth questioning this move. It’s assumed at this point that Tannehill will miss most or all of the 2017 season, but backup Matt Moore proved serviceable in spot duty to close out 2016.
Is a 34-year old Cutler that had one leg out the door for sure better than Moore? No, not for certain. However, Cutler did enjoy arguably his best season as a pro under Gase in 2015 and with a talented offense around him, the upside is clear in this new environment.
Some players often need a change of scenery or a new act to get the best out of them, and in South Beach Cutler just might get it. Cutler is still physically in his prime, he knows how to work well with Gase and he’s out of a toxic situation that he had to endure for years in the Windy City.
Cutler will still face questions about his attitude and work ethic, but he’s always had elite arm talent and a gamer mentality. If he can stay on the field and limit back-breaking mistakes like he did with Gase two seasons ago, he can prove to be a genius addition to this offense.
Passing on Other Options
While there is plenty of logic behind the Dolphins signing Jay Cutler, it’s fair to ponder their other options.
Firmly backing Moore was one door they could have left open, while other big name free agent quarterbacks like Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and even Johnny Manziel could have been interesting additions.
Are any of those passers guaranteed upgrades over Cutler, though? Romo is the only one that stands out, but he seems comfortable staying away from football at this point and if he were to return to the NFL, it would make more sense that he did it with a team in a better position to compete for a Super Bowl.
Kaepernick and RG3 are worth mentioning, but neither have been much better than Cutler in recent years and Cutler is a better passer inside the pocket than both. Manziel would be an interesting long-term project, but is probably the least appealing in terms of reliability and immediate return.
Betting on Miami
Cutler coming to Miami isn’t a sign to bet hard on the Dolphins. This was probably a better team at full strength with Tannehill under center, yet Miami hasn’t seen anything better than +5000 Super Bowl odds at top Super Bowl betting sites like Bovada so far in 2017.
Those odds aren’t about to soar just because Cutler has been signed, either.
That also doesn’t mean we should ignore Miami. Cutler is a viable NFL starter and as long as he’s healthy, it remains quite possible a reunion with Adam Gase could have the two producing a very strong offense in South Beach.
We also need to remember that this offense was never hinging on the passing game to begin with. Bruising rusher Jay Ajayi gives this team a strong rushing attack on the ground and if the Fins can lean on him again, they may not need to ask Cutler to win too many games on his own.
Cutler can perform well in the clutch, but if he’s playing more of a game-managing role, Miami could actually end up being a tough playoff team. There is still a lot of wishful thinking associated with betting on the Dolphins, but they have some appealing odds.
Starting in week one, Miami takes on the Buccaneers and start 2017 as a mild -1 favorites at home. That might be a tough spot to trust in Cutler and co. right away, but the Dolphins are still intriguing playoff bets and have the next best odds (+1000) behind the New England Patriots to snag the AFC East crown.
If we want to get really ambitious, we can ride the Cutler narrative all the way to Super Bowl 52. Miami currently carries +6600 title odds into the new season. Those are pretty steep, but for a team that was 11-5 a year ago and found a suitable replacement under center, they’re probably one of the more attractive Super Bowl sleeper bets out there.
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