FOXBORO, Mass. — Some notes and nuggets from Friday’s New England Patriots media availability at Gillette Stadium:
— The Miami Dolphins’ offense theoretically should receive a boost Monday night with starting quarterback Jay Cutler now back under center. Cutler’s history against the Patriots might suggest otherwise, though.
Cutler has started three games against New England in his NFL career — one with the Denver Broncos and two with the Chicago Bears. The results? Three losses by a combined 91 points. Oof.
There was the 41-7 thumping in 2008, the 36-7 beatdown in 2010 and the 51-23 stinker in 2014 (Chicago trailed 45-7 in that one before scoring two garbage-time touchdowns). Cutler was pulled from two of those defeats and replaced by (remember these guys?) Patrick Ramsey and Jimmy Clausen.
In those three forgettable starts, Cutler threw four touchdowns, tossed five interceptions and averaged just 182.3 passing yards per game. Not great.
The 5-7 Dolphins need to hope a different Cutler shows up Monday night at Hard Rock Stadium, as they basically need to win out to have even the slightest chance of reaching the postseason for the second consecutive year.
“Cutler’s a very experienced guy,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Friday morning. “He’s got a great arm, he can throw the ball all over the field in any position, so I think that’s probably the No. 1 thing is his ability to get the ball anywhere on the field from any type of body position that he’s in. You’d better be ready to cover everybody. He’s a very, very good deep ball thrower, and he’s got a quick release”
Backup Matt Moore started in place of a concussed Cutler against New England two weeks ago and took a beating, absorbing seven sacks and throwing two interceptions in a 35-17 Patriots victory. Cutler returned to the lineup last week and guided Miami to its most lopsided win of the season, 35-9 over a Denver Broncos team that hasn’t won since early October.
— Another unfortunate trend for the Dolphins: They are 0-3 in prime-time games this season and have been outscored 112-45. The Patriots are 3-1 in night games, with their lone defeat being the highly scrutinized loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1.
New England defeated the Dolphins 35-14 on the road in Week 17 last season but lost in each of its previous three trips to Miami.
— Patriots offensive tackle Nate Solder reacted Friday to his nomination for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which recognizes “excellence on and off the field” and is given annually to a player who dedicates himself to work in the community.
“(I’m) extremely honored,” Solder said. “I’ve had such an amazing experience here on the football field, and it’s been even better off the football field. The opportunities I’ve been provided because of the Patriots and (team owner Robert) Kraft and all the organizations that have come forward, it’s been awesome.
“And I feel like a lot of it is, I’m just doing what I’m able to do, and it’s my responsibility to help when I can. I do as much as I can, but I can’t always do everything, so it’s been a great experience.”
Thumbnail photo via Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports Images