Yesterday, the Atlanta Falcons promised not to do the thing that many Falcons fans have already been guilty of this week: Underestimating Jay Cutler. I’ll freely admit I’ve been leading the charge in that regard.
The Falcons, however, can afford to do no such thing. Just in case.
Falcons have plenty of respect for Dolphins' Jay Cutler https://t.co/8m5qTYcxDG— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) October 11, 2017
There are a couple of reasons the Falcons might legitimately feel this way, though it’s tempting to chalk it up to simply being polite.
- Way back in 2014, during Mike Smith’s last year with the team, Cutler completed 68% of his passes against an overmatched Atlanta defense in the Georgia Dome, finishing a 27-13 victory with 381 yards and a touchdown. That was years ago, and Cutler hasn’t finished with that many yards in a game since, but I doubt that anyone who was with the team has forgotten he was once capable of that.
- Marquand Manuel is a former teammate, and while there are certainly exceptions, former teammates of Cutler do tend to praise his leadership skills and ability. They know him, whereas we just see him no-selling a route or looking like he just rolled out of bed after throwing an interception. Manuel looks at Cutler and sees the man he played with in 2008 with the Broncos, the quarterback with the cannon arm who was dangerous to defenses, and he sees that where we just see a diminished player making off-balance throws.
More importantly, though, there’s the knowledge that if Cutler has a good game against Atlanta, it will be a blow to the reputation of an improving young defense. This quote from Ricardo Allen is likely to resonate with Falcons fans who get truly nervous every time the Falcons play, and it illustrates why NFL teams are constantly harping on respect and preparation. Bolding is mine.
"Me, I'm the type of person, I look at everybody and I give them all the respect [I] can," Allen said. "If I give you the utmost respect, and then we play good against you, we just look better. You go out there and you talk bad about somebody and you say, 'He can't do this and he can't do that,' and he comes out there and throws 500 yards and 5 touchdowns ... you just look crazy.
"Jay Cutler, yes, he's thrown interceptions. But, yes, he has thrown touchdowns. This is his offensive coordinator that he had his best year with. ... I don't count him out at all. I never do."