Whether hes suffering a knee injury, getting through a press conference or throwing footballs, Jay Cutler is nothing if not a figure of discussion.
The latest to weigh in is Greg Cosell, outstanding senior producer over at NFL Films and executive producer of NFL Matchup, who makes a case for Cutler being a top-10 quarterback. The reasoning isinteresting.
The qualifier up front is that anytime someone has to belabor their credentials, pretty good guess that the first point is to establish that they know more than you do because they know their point is shaky. Among Gregs statements:
based on my extensive experience
studying Cutler when he came out of Vanderbilt in 2006
the tape told the story
when you watch as much tape as I do
and thats in just the first four paragraphs.
Anyway, its really about Cutler, who I do believe became an exponentially better quarterback from 2009 to 2010 and again from 2010 to what of 2011 he was able to play.
Neither Greg nor I have a particular rooting interest in Cutlers play. And Greg is absolutely one of the best all-around commentators on the game. Usually.
My take on Cutler is that he is right on the cusp of becoming the best since Sid Luckman and could prove better than the Hall of Famer. But hes not yet. Better passer? Probably. Just not better quarterback.
Greg has focused on Cutlers passing; that badly misses the most important point about a quarterback. Thats like measuring a pitcher by strikeout total or based on a speed gun.
(That said, passer rating does have its uses. The collapse of the 08 Denver team from 8-5 to out of the playoffs can be blamed on the defense. That may be. But with playoffs on the line, Cutler posted three straight games with sub-75 passer ratings. Greg cites one particular rookie pass of Cutlers as a true memory; the guess here is that the Broncos, including Cutler and Brandon Marshall, probably remember those last three games. Marshalls recent comments at OTA said as much.)
Greg basically blames Cutlers career 61.1-percent completion percentage on everyone except Cutler. If your receivers do not win against man coverage, its the quarterbacks fault that sort of thing. Guessing here that Charles Woodson, Deion Sanders and Darrelle Revis would demur but theyre exceptions, too.
And while correctly describing Cutler as a see it, throw it passer who doesnt like to throw before his receiver is breaking open, Greg curiously then blames receivers for not getting open. If they werent open, why did Cutler throw it? That was always the Cutler rub before the last two seasons.
Greg allows that Cutlers ball location can be a little imprecise at times. Yes.
It wasnt the 26 interceptions in 2009 that was the real jaw-dropper, or that so many of them happened in red zones. It was that three of them went to defensive linemen with a combined weight of nearly half a ton. These were not issues of receiver separation. Imprecise. Yes.
Cutler is one of the best pure throwers in the NFL. If there is a more meaningless observation to make about a quarterback Never mind. This is Scouting Combine talk. Tight spiral? Arm strength? Able to throw a ball, while on his knees, through a goal post from 50 yards? Howd that work out? You cannot separate a quarterbacks arm from the brain that tells it where to throw.
In the end, you are what your record says you are. Cutler could be a top-10 quarterback, or even passer, for that matter. Personally, based on the better part of his last 20 games, dating back to the 2010 off week, he was earning a place in the discussion.
He is not yet. And best guess here is that Cutler would agree.