The Carolina Panthers and their No.1-ranked defense will face a hot quarterback Monday night when they go against veteran Jay Cutler, who completed 34-of-42 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns in Miami’s loss to Oakland Sunday.
Cutler, 34, was lured out of a brief retirement by Miami coach Adam Gase after the Dolphins lost starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a season-ending knee injury in August. Miami reportedly gave Cutler a one-year, $10-million contract to get off his couch and come back to the NFL under Gase, his former offensive coordinator in Chicago.
“I don’t think it was that tough when you’re getting paid $10 million to do that,” Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis said of Cutler’s return. “I think that makes it a lot easier.”
Cutler hasn’t played badly all season – he led a 17-point comeback win against Atlanta on the road – but Sunday was the first 300-yard game of this one-year stint with the Dolphins (4-4).
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Arm strength has always been a plus for Cutler.
“He can put the ball anywhere on the field,” Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly said.
Julius Peppers teamed with Cutler with the Chicago Bears for several seasons.
“I still consider Jay a good friend,” Peppers said. “I’m rooting for him. It’ll be fun to go against him again. ... I imagine it was pretty tough for him to get adjusted. But he should be there now. It’s midseason.”
While Cutler has a reputation for throwing the occasional bad interception, this season he and Carolina quarterback Cam Newton have the same number of touchdown passes (10 apiece) but Cutler is far better on interceptions.
Cutler has only been picked off five times in 2017, while Newton has been intercepted 11 times.
“He’s been a guy that’s taken a lot of chances in the past,” Davis said of Cutler. “But if you look at him on film, he’s not really doing much of that right now.”