COSTA MESA — Retire for three months, and some people lose all respect for you.
That’s essentially the treatment Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler got from Melvin Ingram, whom he will face this Sunday at StubHub Center. Asked on Thursday afternoon what problems Cutler might present this weekend, the Chargers defensive end didn’t miss a beat.
“None,” Ingram said.
Never mind the fact that, when Ingram and the Chargers last saw Cutler on the field in 2015, the quarterback carved up the defense for 345 yards and two touchdowns in a 22-19 comeback victory for the Bears. He is 34 years old, nine months removed from shoulder surgery, and hasn’t won a game since last Halloween — but there are far worse quarterbacks on the Chargers’ schedule this year.
— NFL (@NFL) November 10, 2015
To be clear, Ingram seems to hold a minority opinion at the Chargers’ practice facility — where players and coaches alike have lauded Cutler’s abilities in advance of their home opener against the Dolphins on Sunday (1:05 p.m., CBS). Among those is cornerback Casey Hayward, who began his career in Green Bay and faced Cutler six times in four seasons. Asked if he had a favorite outing against the Bears during that stretch, Hayward wouldn’t bite.
“I’ll talk about it after the game,” he said. “I don’t wanna give too much ammo out right now.”
But, Hayward added, there were plenty of times during his Packers stint that Cutler “ripped us.”
“I’m telling guys, ‘Hey, the man is pretty good,’” he said. “So, we’ve got to come in there prepared. He’s got some weapons. I think he might have more weapons now that he’s in Miami than he did with the Bears. It’ll be very interesting to see him and see how they gel together.”
Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn pointed out Cutler’s “escapability,” which he’d noticed when the quarterback began his career in Denver. Cutler ran for 405 yards and three touchdowns in his final two seasons there, earning his lone Pro Bowl nod before the Broncos traded him to Chicago in 2009.
“He made a lot of plays off schedule,” Lynn said. “To me, that’s when he’s most dangerous. Those are the plays you can’t prepare for. He’s kind of a wild card.”
“He can get hot,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley added. “That’s the biggest thing. If he feels…