MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Jay Cutler said concussions are something he knows have to be taken seriously, and that he knows they can get trickier to deal with over time.
He said those words in 2010.
He’s had multiple concussions since, and now is dealing with another.
The Miami Dolphins have plenty of problems, and the status of their starting quarterback is now among the foremost entries on that list.
Cutler got what is — at least — his third concussion in the past seven years in Sunday’s 30-20 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and now a reeling team has a big question to deal with as it prepares to visit the New England Patriots next week.
“I want to get to tomorrow first and see how he’s feeling,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said.
It was not a game to remember for Cutler, who was picked off three times in the first half — definitely one, and probably two, of those were not his fault — and was slow to get up after taking a big hit from Tampa Bay defensive end Ryan Russell in the final seconds before intermission.
Cutler stayed in the game for the lone play that was left before halftime, then walked slowly through the tunnel leading to the locker room.
He never re-emerged. Matt Moore was told he was going into the game about five minutes before the second-half kickoff and completed 17 of 28 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown, leading the Dolphins out of a 20-7 deficit and into a 20-20 tie with 3 minutes left.
“I was just the same as always: work the offense, communicate, execute, and get in the flow of the game,” Moore said.
The defense couldn’t finish the job. Tampa Bay went 58 yards for a 35-yard field goal with 4 seconds left, then got a fumble recovery in the end zone for a touchdown on Miami’s final, futile ensuing kickoff return.
So, on a day where Miami committed 17 penalties and turned the ball over five times, the Dolphins also lost a quarterback and a fourth straight game.
“We hurt ourselves more than anything,” Gase said.
Cutler and Rey Maualuga were the two veterans that the Dolphins brought in back in August when injuries forced their hand to make some splashy additions.
Cutler was headed to the television booth to work as an analyst, before the Dolphins lulled him from pseudo-retirement with a $10 million offer. Maualuga was starting to finally find a groove for Miami after needing the better part of two months to get into game shape.
On Saturday, Maualuga was arrested for an alleged incident surrounding a bar tab and then waived.
On Sunday, Cutler got hurt.
Neither plan went as hoped, just like the Dolphins’ season. Maualuga’s departure leaves the Dolphins thin at linebacker again, and the only other healthy quarterback after Moore on the Miami roster is David Fales — who has thrown a total of five NFL passes.
“When you’ve got to make a change the day before the game it’s going to be difficult,” Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake said of Maualuga, who faces a battery charge.
The Dolphins know Maualuga isn’t coming back. Time will tell on Cutler.
“Concussions are kind of tricky,” Cutler said in 2010. “You’re never really sure when you’re 100 percent healthy.”
And again, that was a lot of hits ago.