U.S. Markets open in 8 hrs 10 mins

Jay Cutler wows in second start for the Miami Dolphins

PHILADELPHIA – The NFL preseason means more to some teams than it does others. For the Miami Dolphins, nothing is more important than familiarizing recently signed quarterback Jay Cutler with his new teammates, especially against a talented Philadelphia Eagles front.

After a less than stellar 2016 with Chicago, Cutler’s second start for the Dolphins on Thursday night started ominously. The 34-year-old failed to escape the rush, got sacked and fumbled.

Cutler admitted of his second start: “It’s kind of a learning process.”

The Eagles recovered the fumble and consolidated the turnover with a gorgeous 50-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz to Torrey Smith.

Miami QB Jay Cutler passes during the first half of Thursday’s preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. (AP)

Cutler’s rough night did not last long.

Displaying the cannon of an arm that head coach Adam Gase and the Dolphins coveted after Ryan Tannehill’s season-ending injury, Cutler threw a perfect strike to DeVante Parker up the sideline.

Parker, whom Miami has high hopes for, won a 50-50 jump ball over cornerback Ronald Darby in a play that went for 72 yards and ultimately resulted in a 2-yard Jay Ajayi touchdown run.

In five series of total work, Cutler finished 5-for-8 for 105 yards, a touchdown and a 145.8 QB rating.

“These guys,” he said of Parker, Stills and Jarvis Landry, “they’re different speeds. Like whenever they get green grass, they’re gone.”

Gase said his quarterback’s pocket presence is “coming back pretty quick.”

The 2017-18 season is undoubtedly also one of high hopes for the Dolphins. The Dolphins would not have made a sizable investment (one-year, $10 million with incentives) in Cutler if they didn’t believe he gave them a chance to win 10-plus games and return to the playoffs for the second straight year. Remember, the most productive season of Cutler’s career came in 2015, when he and Gase – then the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears – found common ground. In 15 games, Cutler enjoyed a career-high quarterback rating, along with a healthy 7.58 yards per attempt.

With that in mind, it’s a huge plus that Cutler – who said the dual practices helped him gain a sense of comfort with what he deemed his new “weapons” – seemed to grow more comfortable as the game progressed. Working out of shotgun, he fired an on-target bomb to Kenny Stills – not long after climbing the pocket for a 15-yard completion to Stills – who had broken the top off the defense after doing the same thing in a Tuesday joint practice with the Eagles.

A blatant Eagles pass interference prevented a surefire touchdown for Stills. Nevertheless, Cutler – who was marvelous during the joint practice with a slew of well thrown deep balls – fired a strike to tight end Julius Thomas for the first touchdown of his Dolphins career.

Follow Jordan Schultz on Twitter at @Schultz_Report