Jay Cutler's known to trust his arm, probably a little bit too much.
During Thursday night's 38-31 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Miami Dolphins new starting quarterback showed his new team exactly why his arm talent has carried him for 12 seasons as a starter, and made him a very rich man.
Immediately after converting a third-and-6 with a 15-yard dagger to wide receiver Kenny Stills, Cutler launched a beautiful bomb to receiver DeVante Parker's back shoulder.
Parker, the Dolphins' 2015 first-round pick, who had been having a breakout camp, jumped in the air to catch the first-quarter pass over Ronald Darby's head and then sprinted another 40 yards downfield before being brought down at the 2-yard line by a shoestring tackle.
"It was just a one-on-one opportunity," Cutler said. "When you have a guy like that you try to find those matchups to get him a shot at the ball. … I just kind of threw it out there."
Jay Ajayi, who gained 53 yards on five carries, capped off that five-play, 93-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. However, Cutler wasn't done showing why he was coach Adam Gase's handpicked replacement for Ryan Tannehill, the incumbent starter who had a season-ending knee injury in training camp.
One drive, and another Ajayi touchdown run later, Cutler launched another bomb to Stills, who drew a pass interference call on Darby inside the Dolphins' end zone.
On the very next play Cutler connected with tight end Julius Thomas for a 1-yard touchdown in the flat, putting Miami ahead 21-14, and ending Cutler and Ajayi's evening.
Cutler finished his second game as a Dolphin completing 5-of-8 passes for 105 yards and one touchdown, producing a eye-opening 145.8 passer rating, which indicates that the former Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears starter still has plenty of ability left, especially once he gets more familiar with his playmakers and surroundings.
"I feel like he's in a pretty good rhythm," Gase said when asked about Cutler, who also fumbled away Miami's first possession when Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry got past left tackle Laremy Tunsil for a strip sack. "We just got to stay consistent.
"We don't want the turnover. It was mine; it was a bad call on my part," Gase said, taking blame for the sack. "It puts him in a bad spot."
The Dolphins' offense has a little over two weeks to sew things together before the Sept. 10 regular-season opener.
But based on Thursday night's performance against the Eagles, the Dolphins coaching staff needs to be more concerned with tightening the screws on the leaky defense.
That unit allowed Carson Wentz to look like an elite quarterback. Philadelphia's 2016 first-round pick completed 6-of-10 passes for 129 yards and threw two touchdown passes.
Wentz's first was a 50-yard bomb Torrey Smith caught after sneaking past safety Reshad Jones, who could be seen screaming at cornerback Byron Maxwell, indicating that a coverage breakdown occurred.
"I had him," Maxwell acknowledged after the game. "I should've just stayed on the post [route], but your eyes play tricks on you."
For his second touchdown, Wentz connected on a 15-yard pass to Alshon Jeffrey, who snuck behind Miami's zone coverage for an easy red zone score.
"We had a bust and they scored a touchdown," Gase said. "We kind of mis-executed on some things. We've just got to tighten it up."
Miami's defense did record two turnovers in the first half.
Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips pulled down the first interception when he caught a tipped pass at the 20-yard line and rumbled is way to the 2-yard line, setting up Ajayi's second touchdown run.
Linebacker Lawrence Timmons intercepted Eagles quarterback Matt McGloin in the in the second quarter, but one play later quarterback Matt Moore gave the ball right back to the Eagles with an interception that former Florida standout Jaylen Watkins pulled down in the end zone and returned to Philadelphia's 47-yard line.
That play was one of Miami's four turnovers, and Philadelphia turned all of them into scores during Thursday night's shootout.
The turnovers and breakdowns indicate that the Dolphins have plenty of work to do before Miami is ready for the opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Dolphins have one more preseason game next Thursday night against the Minnesota Vikings, and on Sept. 2 the team must trim the 90-player roster down to 53, identifying who belongs on the team this season, and what positions need to be fortified using the waiver wire.
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