The Dolphins hitched their wagon to Jay Cutler.
And just look at them now.
The Dolphins bring the lowest-ranked offense in the NFL to Atlanta when they face the Falcons on Sunday.
After starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a season-ending left knee injury in August, the Dolphins signed the enigmatic Cutler to a $10 million contract despite a losing record (68-71) after stints with the Broncos and Bears and an announced retirement for a job in the broadcast booth. The Dolphins notably passed on free-agent Colin Kaepernick in a favor of a reunion between coach Adam Gase and Cutler.
Cutler has been ineffective, and Miami fans and some in the national media have called for him to be replaced. However, Gase remains supportive of Cutler, who he coached as offensive coordinator with the Bears in 2015.
With Cutler at the controls, the Dolphins rank last in the NFL (32nd) in seven key offensive categories: yards per game (231.3), yards per play (3.9), passing net yards per game (156.5), passing net yards per play (4.35), first downs per game (15), third-down efficiency (25 percent) and points per game (10.3).
The Dolphins, who went to the playoffs last season, opened with a win over the Chargers before losing to the Jets and Saints. Cutler outdueled the Titans’ Matt Cassel for a 16-10 win last week. He directed the Dolphins on only their third offensive touchdown drive of the season to pull out the win.
Cutler has completed 82 of 131 passes (62.9 percent) with three touchdowns and three interceptions. He has a career-low passer rating of 74.8.
The Falcons don’t want Cutler, the former Vanderbilt star, to suddenly flash back to 2008 form when he made the Pro Bowl.
“The quarterback has a real strong arm,” Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant said. “(Wide receiver Jarvis) Landry can make big plays. He can turn nothing into something.”
Running back Jay Ajayi, who rushed for 1,272 yards last season, is off to a slow start. He’s rushed 76 times for 261 yards.
Gase has attributed Culter’s woes to a porous offensive line. The unit has now lost its coach, Chris Foerster. He resigned this week after a video of him allegedly snorting cocaine was released on social media.
Falcons safety Ricardo Allen is not too concerned about Cutler.
“If we can go out there and do what we do, click the way we click, it’s nobody who can stop us,” Allen said. “That’s all we have to worry about. We start worrying about other teams and not worrying about ourselves, I don’t think anybody can really mess with us.”
The Dolphins’ defense is a different story. The unit ranks No. 8 overall, allowing 309.5 yards per game. That includes a run defense ranked No. 4 in the league, allowing just 75.5 yards per game.
The defensive line, which is led by Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and Andre Branch, is stout.
“They have a really active front,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “All the way through to the tackles with the defensive ends. They really do a good job of setting the edge.”
Kiko Alonso is the leader of the linebacker group, alongside Rey Maualuga and Lawrence Timmons.
“I like their linebackers,” Quinn said. “I think they’ve got speed. They’re good tacklers.”
Safety Reshad Jones, a former Washington High and Georgia product, is a ball-hawk. He plays alongside Nate Allen.
“The safeties can come downhill and play,” Quinn said. “I think they have a good pressure package. I’m not surprised that statistically they’re playing well. When you see the scheme, it’s really sound, and the guys are now into it for a second year and have a full understanding of it. I’m not surprised that they’re playing well in the run game. When I look at their tape, it starts up front.”
The rested Falcons (3-1) host the Dolphins (2-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.