While we all continue to speculate as to who’s at fault for the Jay Cutler trade mess is, and best case is that this all blows over. I have been asking myself the question: How good is Jay Cutler? I am not posting this to diminish his talents at all, but instead to try to examine both his true value to the Broncos, and how quarterbacks are evaluated.
The NFL is a business, and while Cutler had a tremendous season statically and personally, reaching his first pro-bowl. The question is always about value, or can we get about the same production from a different player for less money or fewer distractions. It’s a issue that in my mind is the most difficult to address in the NFL. Looking at other sports leagues like the MLB, players are moved from team to team without second thought ,and nobody is untradeable, ala A-Rod, Holliday, and Pedro. Why pay a player 10x more to hit .300 and drive in 100 runs, when you can have a rookie in your farm system whom you are familiar with, potentially do the same thing, or even if there is a drop-off, the pay savings being worth it. Obviously there are major differences between football and baseball. where in football, schemes, styles, coaches, and chemistry are entirely different from team to team, and the value of each player must be evaluated on how well he fits thats scheme. Think 3-4 D tackles to 4-3, or how we could always find RBs and O-lineman later in the draft or undrafted. Where in baseball, if you can hit in Denver, you can hit in Boston.
So I ask this, given our knowledge about Mcdaniels and the scheme he has, has Cutlers value dropped compared to when he was undert Shanahan? Cutler undoubtedly has the tools to win Super Bowls, but can we win sooner if say we traded Jay more picks to rebuild our defense? If a team makes an offer you cant refuse, or you have reason to think a team might give you a lop-sided deal you are required to listen in my mind. I think that is the message Mcdaniels is trying to send. That the Broncos will be run like a well oiled business, and will do anything that can help the team win now. Yes, Jay Cutler was a pro-bowl player for Mike Shanahan, but again without trying to de-value his skill, look at his supporting cast. Here are a few points both in favor of, and against Jay's season, and his ultimate "Value"
1) He was basically untouched all season being sacked only 11 times. Yes, he did do some Houdini like escape jobs, but for the most part the pressure wasn’t on.
2) Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokley, and Tony Scheffler, are some of the best young talents in the game and can make other players better, even their QB. Yes, Jay could be making them look good too, so the question is which way does the scale tip?
3) Jay Cutler played against defenses that knew he was going to throw. 40-50 attempts a game was nothing uncommon, and teams knew that we didn’t have a run game. Even with this knowledge he still put up tremendous numbers.
4) Playing off 3, Jay Cutler threw a lot . Yes he had a lot of 300 yard games, set the a number of records, and went to a pro-bowl. Take a look at his Passer rating, used to measure a quarterback’s efficiency. Jay Cutler was 16th with a rating of 86. Looking at the top 5 for this stat, 4 of the top 5 quarterbacks made the playoffs (rivers, pennington, warner, brees, P manning). It is important to note however that Ben Rothlisberger had a rating of 80.1 putting him at 24th in the league for this statistic.
5) It is hard to value Jay Cutlers leadership ability in my mind. But I don’t have a lot of information with which to make a evaluation. The last few weeks have made me question his leadership credibility, but I am obviously not in the locker room to see firsthand how he interacts with the other players.
With all this being said let me make one thing clear; I want Jay Cutler to stay in Denver. I think he is one of the most talented players in the league, and think he has a lot of passion for the game. I am still holding out hope that things will all blow over either before the season starts, or at least by the time comes to discuss a new contract (3 Years). If you recall Eli Manning was almost run out of town, then went on to win a super bowl, now he could probably get a key to the city.
But If something can be done to help us achieve the only goal of the organization, win a super bowl, I am for it, and to be honest I trust Mcdaniels to lead this club. While things could have been handled better by the front office, a new coach with a quarterback he raised from the ground up on the block, Mcdaniels has quickly learned how thin a line is walked by gms and coaches across the league. Again lets hope that things will be fixed, and fixed soon, but feel free to share your thoughts, and as always Go Broncos.