Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Dreaming Of Cutler

It's clear the Vikings are pushing hard for Jay Cutler. That's the good news. The bad news? He's not going to be easy, or cheap, to get. Is he worth it?

In a word, yes.

Cutler's a 25 year old quarterback that is coming off a year in which he made the Pro Bowl and was one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He would be an instant passing game. Last year, he threw 25 touchdowns and completed 62.3% of 616 pass attempts for 4,526 yards. He averaged 7.1 yards per attempt while only getting sacked 11 times. He was 5th in DYAR and 8th in DVOA last year and 8th and 11th in 2007, his first year of starting. He was really, really good.

Of course, like all players, he has his detractors. The two arguments you hear against Cutler are that he throws a lot of interceptions and that he has yet to lead his team to a winning record, let alone the playoffs. Both of those can be partially explained by the fact that the Broncos were awful defensively the past two years. In 2008, they gave up the third most points in the NFL, allowing their opponents to score 28 a game, which was even worse than their performance in the NFL, when they gave up 25.6 points per game, the fifth worst in the NFL. As we learned the past few years, a team's record is not a very good way to measure a quarterback's performance. Gus Frerotte had a winning record last year, and Tarvaris Jackson had a winning record the year before. When Daunte Culpepper was putting up historic numbers for the 2003 and 2004 Vikings, it wasn't enough to win 10 games because the defense was so awful.

And when your defense is gives up a lot of points, it means your quarterback has to throw the ball a lot against a defense that knows its coming. And when the defense knows you're going to do something, it makes it a lot easier for them to stop. So while Cutler threw 18 interceptions last year, and 14 the year before, its not that surprising considering how often he was passing and how often he was passing against a defense expecting the pass. And even though he threw 18 interceptions, he only threw them on 3.0% of his passes, a number that's more than respectable. To put that in context, Gus Frerotte threw interceptions on 5.0% of his passes last year, Sage Rosenfels threw picks on 5.0% of his passes and Brett Favre threw interceptions on 4.2% of his passes.

So, no matter what people may say, Cutler is good. Really good. And he's signed through the 2011 season. Which means that most likely, the Vikings are going to have to give up a lot in draft picks and likely more than the first and two third rounders they gave up for Jared Allen, whose price tag was lowered by his lack of a long term deal. I'm talking something like two first rounders, with maybe a late rounder or two thrown ni. But would that be worth it?

I think so. Remember--he's young. He's only three years into his career, which means he'll be here a long time, especially if the Vikings sign him to an extension. He'd be worth the 22nd round pick easily. And with him, the Vikings would likely be drafting in the 20s again next year. Draft picks are for acquiring young players and first round draft picks are for acquiring young impact players. And Cutler is a young impact player and is likely going to be better than any player the Vikings would take in the first round the next two years. The Purple have had six draft picks in the second half of the first round in the past 10 years. With those picks, they've drafted the following players:



Draft Position



Chad Greenway




Erasmus James




Kenechi Udeze




Michael Bennett




Chris Hovan




Dimitrius Underwood



Would you trade two of those players for Jay Cutler? I know I would. The only player on that list that's even approached Pro Bowl caliber at any point is Chad Greenway and possibly Chris Hovan. And neither of them play a position as important as quarterback.

I know that this is probably a pipe dream. But it's a fun pipe dream and one I'm glad the Vikings are pursuing. And while the Broncos might not be willing to part with Cutler for anything less than a quarterback (which the Vikings don't have) or a Herschel Walker type deal, if they're willing to give him up for less, then the Vikings need to be willing to give that up for a quarterback that's actually good enough to win the Super Bowl. And make no mistake about it--if you add Jay Cutler to this Vikings' team, they are not only good enough to win the Super Bowl, they're good enough to be the favorite.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Broncos have said they will not trade Cutler unless they get a good QB in return. A new coach would be crazy to give up a young franchise QB and be left where Chilly is right now.