Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

18 Sep 2012

ESPN: Can Jay Cutler Become Brett Favre?

Um, probably not. But Cutler's numbers are somewhat similar to some other recent quarterbacks who did have postseason success.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 18 Sep 2012

25 comments, Last at 21 Sep 2012, 10:08am by mareeno13


by Travis :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:30pm

Santa Claus, Indiana is in the Deep South?

by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 3:06pm

Well, damn. He was born in Georgia and went to Vanderbilt. It's just that middle part I got wrong.

by Travis :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 3:42pm

Every source I've seen (NFL.com, the 2006-08 Broncos media guides, the 2012 Bears media guide, and various articles) but Wikipedia has Cutler being born in Indiana. It would not be the first time Wikipedia is wrong.

Edit: Wikipedia's source is probably this Chicago Sun-Times article from 2009 that claims Cutler "made sure [that his birthplace of Columbus, GA] was noted in the Broncos' media guide." No such thing actually happened unless there was a preliminary guide prepared for 2009 and then discarded after the trade.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:46pm

I understand the anti-Favre sentiment, as a backlash against the media nonsense, a good deal of which was encouraged by Stubbleface himself. When it gets to the point that somebody mentions Cutler in the same breath as Stubbleface, in terms of the quality of his play, however, and that somebody hasn't had about 63 of Stubbleface's favorite beverage before he went dry, the anti-Favre sentiment has gone completely batsh*t insane.

I don't subscribe, so I can't completely confirm that my sentiments are the same as Vince's, but it is sad commentary that the question is even worth posing, if only as a rhetorical tool.

by verified (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 1:02pm

As good of a football player as Brett Favre? NO! As big of a tool as Bret Favre? YES!

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 6:10pm

Does Cutler have the photos to back that up?


by Basilicus :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 1:09pm

Not a subscribed Insider, but I do wonder how long it takes to have the David Carr effect on a human being, i.e.:

What is the extent of horrid line play a QB can sustain before the skittishness said QB requires to survive it becomes ingrained and the QB is irreparably ruined forevermore?

by tuluse :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 1:25pm

I don't think it's real. I think Carr just sucked. Otherwise, no QB would have survived the 70s.

by DEW (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:48pm

Judging by the coherence of 70s-era QBs on TV (excepting Jaws when he's not doing MNF), I'm not sure any of them *did* survive the 70s.

by RickD :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 2:40pm

Really a silly question.
Jay Cutler is 29. By the time he was 29, Brett Favre had already won three MVPs and a Super Bowl.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 2:47pm

So many people seemed to have forgotten just how spectacular he was, especially when he was coached very hard. Holmgren, McCarthy, even Childress, weren't hesitant to push him extremely hard, and it paid extraordinary dividends.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 3:50pm

Wholly agree. I posted about this last year, but Favre had a 18 game streak (split over 2 seasons) that looked almost identical to what Rodger's did starting with the 2010 playoffs through the Kansas City loss last year, though Favre was 15-3 in his 18 game span and Rodgers was 17-1. I may have to find that data again because Favre only had like one more int than Rodgers even. His comp % was a bit lower and he might have been a TD or two behind, but as great as Rodgers was last year, Packers fans have seen that level of QB play sustained for that amount of time before. He wasn't bad for the Jets either, until he kept playing with a torn bicep. If you can ignore the off the field stuff (pain killer addiction early in the career that he admitted to and was treated for and the retired/not retired/explicit photos/etc end of career) he is still arguably one of the 10 best QB's ever on the field, you can look at full career or just the 2-4 year peak performance and he still stacks up in the 10 best ever I think.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:05pm

That stretch for Favre was with Holmgren wasn't it, when more contact was being allowed with receivers? I have a ton of respect for Rodgers, but anyone who asserts that Rodgers has already proven himself to be a better NFL qb than Favre is crazy.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 6:27pm

Yep it was with Holmgren it was the end of 95 and those playoffs till the middle of 96 right before he lost Brooks and Freeman on the way to the Super Bowl anyway.

I praise Rodgers a lot and I believe he can end up better than Favre, but yeah he isn't there.

I was wrong on the original stretches I looked at as well. I'll quote myself from the old post on FO.

Rodger's wk 13 2010 - wk 10 2012
356 of 503 (70.8%); 4,642 yards; 42 TD; 7 INT; 37 sacks; 121.5 Rating. Packers are 15-1 (4-0 post season)

Brett Favre (end of 95 + playoffs and first 7 games of 96)
353 of 517 (68.3%); 4,243 yards; 49 TD; 7 INT; 32 sacks; 119.1 rating. Packers were 14-2 (2-1 post season)

Favre lost Robert Brooks and Freeman and his play did drop off (that's where the stretch stops). He was still making plays with Don Beebe and Terry Mickens and Mark Chumara. It would be like the Rodgers losing Jennings and Nelson. Rodgers is still going to make plays with Jones, Driver, Cobb, and Finley, but it won't be the same level.

You can throw Rodgers regular season last year against that Favre line if you want, but since his 2010 playoffs were so good I went and made a shift and expansion of the windows. I expanded Favre deeper into 96 to get the extra 4 games as I didn't want to recheck 20 game stretches since I can't find all the original data so this includes a few games where he had lost his top two receivers that season, both of them slip down a bit by rating, though that might be me calculating it incorrectly, but it's a set that is made to put Rodgers in the best light possible and Favre may have a better stretch than this 20 games.

Aaron Rodgers 2010 playoffs + 2011 regular season + 2011 playoffs (20 games)
456 of 680 (67.5%); 6,001 yards; 56 TD; 9 INT; 48 sacks; 117.0 rating. Packers were 18-2 (4-1 post season)

Brett Favre last 7 games of 95 + 95 playoffs + first 10 games of 96
431 of 693 (62.2%); 5411 yards; 56 TD; 12 INT; 42 sacks; 106.2 rating. Packers were 16-4 (2-1 post season)

So yeah Rodger's is still getting more yards, mostly from the higher completion rate (but league completion rate has increased since 95-96 too). TD's are the same, ints are pretty close, Favre still took fewer sacks. As a note rushing numbers for the two aren't that different either, but I don't have those compiled though Rodger's had 5 TD's to Favre's 4 that one is easy to get from a quick look.

The difference is 29.5 yards and 1.25 completions on 0.65 fewer passes per game. Oh and 0.15 less ints per game too with 0.3 more sacks per game.

The media claims that stretch for Rodger's includes the greatest QB season ever, it's not hard to find media saying Rodger's 2011 was the best ever by a QB. They laud his 2010 playoffs too. Favre nearly matched it pass for pass 17 years earlier.

Rodger's is great, Favre was great and he was better than some like to remember, look at the numbers.

Trying to say Cutler is even in the same bracket as Favre is borderline insulting to Favre.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 6:28pm

It's borderline psychotic, given the variance with observable reality.

by Led :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 4:26pm

He wasn't all that good with the Jets even before the injury either. I'm actually not so sure the injury wasn't exaggerated by the Favre camp to cover for the fact that he mostly mailed in that season. None of that, however, takes away from his brilliance for most of his career.

by mareeno13 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2012 - 10:08am

I absolutely agree with you about Favre being Top 10. When my guy (Marino) retired, me and a lot of my friends all said that Dan should be ranked Top 5, and No. 1 if he would have won a S. B. game. I'm not a hypocrit: Brett now owns all of Dan's meaningful Records AND has a Ring, so he should be ranked Top 5 at the least. Just my opinion.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:06pm

Plus, Favre had a great defense for some time, but other than the sad case of Sterling Sharpe never really had great weapons to work with.

Favre's mid-90's performance is really one of the great stretches of QB play ever. If he just retired even after the 2007 NFC Title Game loss and stayed retired he might be thought of more fondly. But let's remember that his last three healthy seasons (or at least seasons he played 16 games) he went 13-3, 9-7 (started 8-3 before a bicep injury) and 12-4, with pretty good numbers.

He was pick happy during the third quarter of his career (2002-2005) and had some memorably bad playoff performances and plays (2001 divisional, 2004 wild card, the picks to end the 2003 divisional and 2007&09 title games) but those are infrequent and shouldn't outweigh a great career.

How great? I don't know. He's not at the Manning (some may say Brady), Montana, Unitas or in my opinion even Staubach (who I feel is criminally underrated) level, but is he that much worse than Dan Marino or even John Elway?

by tuluse :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:12pm

I think to this day Antonio Freeman is vastly overrated and owes a huge thank you to one Brett Favre.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:16pm

Well, if we are goimg to bring in the context of teammate quality, and coaching, I'll put in my plug for Tarkenton again. Imagine Joe Montana's career if he had not gotten surrounded good teammates and coaching, until he was 32 years old, just after the league had entered its most passing unfriendly era.

It may have not been your intent to imply otherwise, but I will also note again that Favre played GREAT in that 2009 NFCCG, undue attention to one play aside, and very clearly outplayed the qb who eventually was lauded for winning the Super Bowl.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:11pm

I think Cutler can be put in the Alex Smith category of quarterbacks that have been let down by their front offices. After four years they still haven't put a single decent offensive lineman in front of him and Marshall might be the only decent receiver and that depends on him actually being any good in Chicago. They have compounded this by not having very good coaches or matching schemes to personnel. They did have Greg Olsen at tight end but they got rid of him too. Just a mess, I'd sulk if I was him.

by tuluse :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:15pm

Olsen wasn't very good, and still isn't very good. His only year above replacement level (not even above average) was in 2008.

Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox are both decent receivers (well Knox was, who knows right now), though Knox did have frustrating flaws.

The offensive line has been mess though, no argument there.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:44pm

I had a reply comparing Cutler's supporting cast to Romo's but Filtror, Defeater of Spam has eaten it.

by theslothook :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:27pm

The whole thing was a mess from the start. I feel like the worst thing that was done was Shannahan being fired while Cutler was just blossoming. Cutler was still raw by most respects and, putting my psychiatrist hat on, needed that strict coaching because he was far from a finished product. Instead, mcdaniels happened, cutler got shipped off and the problems for cutler began.

I think the bears, when they made this trade, assumed cutler was already a seasoned vet and probably presumed to let him run his own show on offense, while lovie and the rest of the roster leaned towards defense. This probably led to cutler's noted petulance and self entitlement, but the woeful talent has led him into some really bad habits. I don't want to put all of the blame on cutler, his offensive line is still an absolute disaster and has been this perpetual eyesore now for nearly 4 years(which is itself seemingly unthinkable).

With that said, people are overreacting a bit. It was one loss against a tough and desperate packer team. The bears defense still looks deep and talented and even pick prone cutler should be enough to challenge for the division.

by bucko (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 6:22pm

Bill Schroeder was a 1000 yard receiver playing with Brett Favre

He then signed a big contract and the next year was the fourth man for the Lions and soon out of the league

That is how good Favre was. And that was after breaking the thumb in 1999 which impacted his ability to throw the remainder of his career as he couldn't squeeze the ball the same way especially in cold weather.