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For his career, Jay Cutler is 68-71, which would put him just a hair below .500. He’s also 1-1 in the playoffs.

For his career, Jay Cutler has averaged 5.88 Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt, while the league average over that span has been 5.85 ANY/A, putting him just a hair above average.

Cutler wasn’t drafted to be league average, and he’s been a polarizing player for much of his career. He hasn’t quite fulfilled the high potential he had as a prospect, but he’s also been a bit better than the critics suggest, too. He’s not great, he’s not bad, he’s… average.

One thing that’s kind of interesting: his record hasn’t really correlated with his passing efficiency numbers. The correlation coefficient between his Relative ANY/A — that is, his ANY/A minus league average — and his winning percentage is just 0.21.

In the below, I’ve plotted Cutler’s Relative ANY/A in blue against the left Y-Axis, and his team’s winning percentage in red against the right Y-Axis.  As you can see, there’s not a big relationship there, with 2012 (great record, bad stats) and 2015 (strong stats, bad record) sticking out as clear outliers:

But take a look at the same chart, but with his team’s defense’s DVOA in blue instead, also plotted against the left Y-Axis but in reverse order (since for defensive DVOA, negative is better).  The correlation coefficient here is -0.66, so a much stronger relationship (again, negative is better for defensive DVOA).

That just further reinforces the point that Cutler’s pretty average. Which is valuable, of course, because there aren’t many starting quarterbacks in the NFL that can make that claim. With a strong defense, he’ll probably be good enough to get his team to the playoffs. With a bad one, he probably won’t be good enough to make that team competitive. Excluding 2006, when he started just 5 games, Cutler’s had a top-20 defense just three times in his career, and in all of those seasons, his defense was actually top-5. He made the playoffs in two of those three years, with the outlier year coming when Cutler went 7-3 but the Bears went 1-5 with his backups.

  • sacramento gold miners

    Cutler is the Jeff George of this generation, and I think even if his supporting cast was better, there was going to be a finite limit on what that team achieved. The playoff game against the Saints when Cutler had to exit with a real injury, but was completely disconnected from what was going on, spoke volumes about his career. Other QBs who were sidelined make it a point to help the backup QB or coaching staff in that situation.

    • Adam

      Do you mean the 2010 NFCCG against the Packers? Regardless, Cutler doesn’t seem to possess much in the way of leadership, although the intangibles excuse is overused to explain poor performance. From a fan’s perspective, he sure as hell doesn’t inspire confidence, but it’s impossible to know how much (if any) effect that has on his team’s performance.

      • sacramento gold miners

        My bad, it was the Packers game. But yes, intangibles matter when talking about the QB position. I’m not saying Cutler is a bad guy, but a perfect analogy is the talented manager at work who doesn’t know how to lead his department to success. We may never be able quantify the intangibles on team performance, but it’s very real. A talented QB can put in the work, compile strong numbers, but lack the special qualities to have a terrific career. He can make a ton of money, and everything that goes with it, but have potential unrealized in terms of winning.

        Cutler could never lead Vanderbilt to a bowl game, and wore out his welcome in Denver. Don’t think you can have an elite QB without those intangibles. You don’t have passion once in a while, or become disconnected in a NFC TG.

        • John

          I think he got over-vilified for that Packer game (Chicago sports talk radio hosts Boers and Bernstein did a good show about that the day after the game), but at the same time, he should retire because he really doesn’t have the passion for it. Shannon Sharpe and Skip Tebow Brady were talking about this a few days ago on Undisputed.

          • sacramento gold miners

            I don’t doubt Cutler’s toughness or pain threshold, and it was obvious watching the game it was a real injury, and just couldn’t return. It’s unclear to me if leadership, and the ability to motivate others is something which can be substantially improved. Seems like a person either has those qualities or they don’t.

  • Adam

    I think Cutler is perceived to be worse than he actually is for two reasons – his demeanor and his lack of consistency. I won’t try to analyze how much Cutler’s resting bitch face hurts his reputation, but looking at the numbers it’s amazing up and down his career has been. He has alternated good and bad seasons for seven straight years now, which is pretty remarkable for a QB in his prime. I can’t think of anyone else whose play rises and falls in such a clear pattern.

    • Topher Doll

      I do think his demeanor is a bit overstated, I don’t see it mentioned much, not in years really. To me most people seem to dislike him because he never lived up to his draft spot and that he was grossly overpaid in Chicago.

      But so much of why fans like or dislike a player is regional so maybe who I say discussing Culter were different circles than you were.

      • Adam

        I think fans in Denver and Chicago specifically have issues with Cutler’s mopey, passionless demeanor that doesn’t register on the national level. Having seen a couple dozen of his postgame pressers, I find it very hard to warm up to the guy. But you’re right, at this point his big failing is not living up to his contract and hype.

      • SR56

        He wasn’t a motivator, and that shows. Aside from his demeanor, he locks onto his favorite targets, throws into double and triple coverage, and fails to hit his dump off on blitzes. He tends to hold the ball far too long waiting for the guy he wants to throw to instead of taking someone who may be open for less yards. Not sure if he is just terrible with reading a D or not. He also trusts his arm strength way too much. He often tries to force passes into lanes that defenders are all over.

        What QB couldn’t be successful with Marshall, Forte, Jeffrey, Royal, Bennett, Olsen…? Pro Bowl offensive skill players were all on the field with him and he should have excelled. Put any top 10 QB with that talent and it would have been deep playoff runs.

  • WR

    These charts show that with an average QB and a strong defense, you can build a winning team. Look at the success Matt Cassel had with two different teams in 2008 and 2010. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve never understood all the hate for guys like Bradford and Alex Smith. Sure, there’s a ceiling to what those guys will provide. But it’s not like players substantially better than Bradford and Smith are easily available.

    If you’re a Bears fan, do you want to stick with Cutler and his 100 ANYPA+, or take a chance on Garoppolo, who has 1.5 good nfl games on his resume? It’s a fascinating question.

    • sacramento gold miners

      I’d put Alex Smith above Andy Dalton, and way above the likes of Cassel and Bradford. Not an easy decision with Cutler, he’ll also turn 34 by next season.

      • eag97a

        I’d rate Alex Smith as somewhat at the same level as Dalton despite very dissimilar styles and history. They roughly have similar results from w-l perspective. Not using w-l as an eval tool, more as a point of comparison.

        • sacramento gold miners

          Agreed, they are similar QBs. But I would prefer Smith on the strength of the postseason. Dalton is 0-5, and at least Smith has advanced his teams a couple of times. Chiefs fans may forget it was Smith who brought the Niners back for an exciting win over New Orleans.

          • LightsOut85

            Smith’s legs are also an asset

            • eag97a

              Dalton has been known to use his legs occasionally as well.

          • eag97a

            Without a doubt Dalton has to take that playoff monkey off his back but looking at reg. season results and production I have to say they are pretty similar if different in style.

  • eag97a

    So the Cutler line should be below the “Dalton” line? In any case Andy Dalton has left that line behind since his 2015 MVP-caliber season and most would agree that Tannehill is now the placeholder for the Dalton line. We need proper definitions for these qb landmarks… 🙂

  • SR56

    Part of the reason the Bears D was so bad was because of Cutler. When the offense doesn’t score, goes 3 and out, and turns the ball over the D is going to get gassed. Sustain drives and score points and it would have looked a lot better.

    • James

      DVOA accounts for field position.