So far, so good for the Jay Cutler era. The veteran quarterback’s anticipated debut for the Miami Dolphins last week was as good as could be expected. He went 5-for-8 for 105 passing yards and a touchdown. If anything, he made Dolphin general manager Chris Grier look good for passing on Matt Moore as the starting quarterback and throwing down a one-year, $10 million offer sheet to drag him out of retirement.
Cutler, along with most of the Dolphins’ starters, is expected to sit out the preseason finale against the Minnesota Vikings. Resting starters ahead of the season opener seems to be a league-wide trend for every team but the Vikings.
Don’t be surprised to see some action from their first-team unit after a poor performance in the first half of last week’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. It was certainly not the way they wanted to end the preseason.
Here are five things to watch for in the preseason finale between the Dolphins and Vikings.
Chance for Matt Moore to redeem himself
In last week’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Dolphin backup quarterback Matt Moore looked far from ready to take the reins as a starting quarterback. He didn’t even look like a viable backup. It was a poor showing Moore wishes he could have back. With Cutler expected to sit in the preseason finale, it’ll open up a chance for the 10-year veteran to win back the trust of the coaching staff.
There could come a time when he’ll be asked to replace Cutler, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury. Moore will need to be ready if his number is called.
Linebacker help for the Dolphins
The injury to Raekwon McMillan threw a huge monkey wrench in the Dolphins’ plans at linebacker. The rookie second-round pick is expected to miss all of the 2017 season with a torn ACL, which means someone else will have to step up and fill the void.
Rey Maualuga, a 30-year-old veteran who was released from the Cincinnati Bengals in the offseason, was brought in as insurance just in case the Mike Hull experiment didn’t pan out. It could be Maualuga’s job to lose at this point. Both should gain action on Thursday.
The wrath of Mike Zimmer
Viking head coach Mike Zimmer was so upset at his team’s performance last week that he threatened to play his starters in the finale. Will he make good on that threat? More importantly, what happens if a starter gets injured?
“I’ve made up my mind, but I haven’t told the team yet or anything like that,” Zimmer told reporters on Tuesday, per the Pioneer Press. “I haven’t told the coaches yet, either. After the other night, I feel like they should play, but we’ll see.”
More work for Latavius Murray?
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Latavius get some more work on Thursday after making his debut with the Vikings last week. He was sidelined through most of training camp with an injury. Dalvin Cook has likely earned the starting running back position, and that might mean more snaps from Murray in the finale. He could certainly use the extra reps to knock some of the rust off. Against the 49ers, he had two carries for six yards and two receptions for 10 yards.
Cornerback battle carry-over for the Dolphins
The spot across from Dolphin cornerback Xavien Howard could be up for grabs with Byron Maxwell struggling. There is a real possibility that former Pro Bowler Alterraun Verner could work his way up the depth chart and supplant Maxwell. Don’t sleep on rookie corner Cordrea Tankersley, either. He could thrust himself into the thick of things with a strong performance in Thursday night’s game.