Shepkowski: 5 Years In, How Does Cutler Compare?
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By Nick Shepkowski–
Has Jay Cutler been a disappointment as a Bear? Obviously 2009 didn’t end the way anyone wanted it to but you can’t argue what Jay has been able to do in his last 15 starts where he’s compiled a QB-rating of 93.8 and won 11 games.
Barring injury in the final two weeks of the regular season he will play in his first postseason NFL game this January. Despite the lack of playoff appearances to date, Cutler’s numbers aren’t far off from who we call some of the best at the same point in their careers.
Through the now near 5 years of Cutler’s career, he’s thrown 101 TD passes while getting picked off 76 times. Averaged with his 2143 career attempts, Cutler throws a touchdown once every 21.2 pass attempts while throwing an interception once every 28.2 tries.
Not overly impressive but still close to on par with a couple quarterbacks who are often called “great”.
Granted Peyton Manning plays in a much different styled offense than Cutler and the Bears do, but five seasons into his career Manning was throwing touchdowns once every 20.4 pass attempts, a slightly lower rate than Cutler. He was also throwing interceptions once every 28.17 pass attempts; nearly identical to Cutler’s 28.2. Furthermore, Manning’s overall record as a starter through five years was one game over .500 while Cutler sits at 33-33.
Drew Brees is considered by many to be a top three quarterback talent in the NFL today. Comparing their first five seasons of substantial playing time, Cutler was throwing touchdowns at a better rate than Brees who did so once every 22.2 attempts. By no means is it a great differential but a difference regardless.
Ben Roethlisberger’s numbers also rank only slightly better than Cutler’s as he threw touchdowns once every 18.9 attempts, and was picked off once every 27.6 times. The touchdown rate higher but interceptions came at a higher rate.
Does this mean Jay ranks ahead of all current star quarterbacks in his touchdown and interception rates?
No, Phillip Rivers tossing a touchdown once every 17.5 pass attempts ranks as the best but his number also don’t take form until his third year in the league as he served as Drew Brees’ backup for two. Aaron Rodgers sat for three years behind Brett Favre before taking over and throwing an interception only once per 49.6 attempts.
The numbers don’t mean Cutler is bound for Canton and by no means was that the goal of the research. I wanted to know if any “star quarterbacks” struggled the way Cutler seemingly has in many people’s eyes and its obvious that some have.
He may not ever go down as an all-time great but its fair to say that these numbers rank Cutler right up there with the current franchise quarterbacks of the league. If he continues at this pace there is no reason to think he wasn’t worth the two first round draft picks Jerry Angelo paid for him.