Jets face Cutler, Dolphins in home opener
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In March, Jay Cutler had just been released by the Chicago Bears and the New York Jets were looking for a new quarterback after letting Ryan Fitzpatrick go only a month earlier.
Many media members suggested Cutler and the Jets would be natural bedfellows, but Cutler opted for the TV booth and the Jets signed journeyman Josh McCown.
At that point, few thought Cutler would be leading the Miami Dolphins into MetLife Stadium for the Jets' home opener on Sunday. But here we are.
"He came up in conversation, but we went the way we went," Jets head coach Todd Bowles said about the possibility of his team signing the 34-year-old Cutler this spring.
Cutler came out of retirement when Ryan Tannehill tore his ACL in training camp and the always perplexing, occasionally amusing former Bears quarterback was introspective about how his time away from the game could affect his play.
"The good thing is I play quarterback, so I don't have to be in that great cardiovascular shape," Cutler said at his introductory press conference in Miami.
Cutler got some extra time to return to game shape. Unfortunately, it was due to a natural disaster.
Hurricane Irma postponed the Dolphins' Week 1 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and so the Dolphins opened their season last Sunday with a 19-17 win over the Chargers in Los Angeles after rookie kicker Younghoe Koo missed a 44-yard field goal attempt with five seconds left.
Cody Parkey hit a 54-yarder with 1:05 left, his fourth field goal of the game, to give Miami the lead.
"The people of Florida needed that," Dolphins guard Jermon Bushrod said after the game, referencing the damage Irma caused in south Florida.
The Dolphins and Jets are the only two AFC teams not to play a home game yet, but that will change for New York on Sunday after being outscored 66-32 in trips to Buffalo and Oakland.
The Jets, who are 0-2 for the first time since 2007, had massive problems containing LeSean McCoy of the Bills and Marshawn Lynch of the Raiders (and a few of their friends) in allowing a league-worst 370 rushing yards.
Things will get no easier for them this week taking on Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi, who ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns against the Chargers.
The 24-year-old out of Boise State, coming off a breakout season when he ran for 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns, surprisingly showed up on the injury report Wednesday with a knee issue that kept him out of practice. But he is still expected to play Sunday.
Bowles said Ajayi will be a challenge for his defense because of his "great vision (and) low center of gravity."
"He has his shoulders over his knees all the time," Bowles said. "He's a good one-cut runner. As you can see, very thick down low, breaks a lot of tackles."
Miami, which was a six-point favorite for the game as of Wednesday, also has two up-and-coming wide receivers who both had standout efforts last week. Like Ajayi, both are 24 years old.
Jarvis Landry caught 13 of 15 targets for 78 yards and DeVante Parker had four catches for 85 yards.
Landry also didn't practice Wednesday because of a knee injury, but he is expected to play.
Bowles, in his third season as Jets head coach, was interim head coach of the Dolphins for three games at the end of the 2011 season after Tony Sparano was fired. He went 2-1, including a win over the Jets on New Year's Day. He is 15-19 with the Jets.
Dolphins head coach Adam Gase is 11-7, including a playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, in his second season. Despite the Jets' struggles to start the season, the 39-year-old expects the game to be "a slugfest."
"This is a tough game," Gase said. "This is one of those where you throw everything out the window."
Updated September 20, 2017