I cannot believe that there are people out there who actually believe Jay Cutler, Rex Grossman, and Kyle Orton are comparable. They are most certainly contrastable; Cutler is mobile while Grossman and Orton are not. Or if you like, you can find the contrast between Cutler never having a QB rating below 86.0 in his 3 years in the NFL while Orton and Grossman never have had a QB rating over 79.6 (Orton's rating last year).
I hope to finally put this petty issue to rest. I say petty because, in the end, I really don't believe the media-types and mindless fans actually believe what they are saying. They more than likely just like to argue the counter-point. There are those types in life no matter where you are.
My thesis shall be thus: the more weapons you have on offense, the better your offense will be. I don't mean to wade into the murky waters of bad analogies, but I will if only to make a very general point. Take the NBA's Pheonix Suns of the last few years, before they traded away some of their core pieces. They had multiple weapons on the offensive end; from Nash, Marion, and Stoudemire, to Boris Diaw, Leandro Barbosa, and Raja Bell. They had so many weapons that they could simply outscore the other team at will on seemingly any given night. Now, moving on from that, I understand there is a defensive team and offensive team in football. All the better, I say to that. Let's look at the weapons the Broncos and Bears will have on offense this coming year.
First of all, I would like to look at the top third or so of the running back and quarter back positions, as I think it will shed some light on this subject.
Here are the quarterbacks in the NFL who had at least 3500 passing yards and 20 TD's. I pick these numbers because it gives you about the top one-third (10) QB's in the NFL.
Drew Brees.... 5,069 passing yards..... 34 passing TD's...... 17 interceptions...... 65.0 passing percentage
Kurt Warner.... 4,583 passing yards..... 30 passing TD's...... 14 interceptions...... 67.1 passing percentage
Jay Cutler ........ 4,526 passing yards..... 25 passing TD's...... 18 interceptions...... 62.3 passing percentage
Aaron Rodgers... 4,038 passing yards... 28 passing TD's.. . 13 interceptions...... 63.6 passing percentage
Phillip Rivers ... 4,009 passing yards.... 34 passing TD's...... 11 interceptions....... 65.3 passing percentage
Peyton Manning... 4,002 passing yards... 27 passing TD's... 12 interceptions...... 66.8 passing percentage
Donovan McNabb... 3,916 passing yards... 23 passing TD's... 11 interceptions... 60.4 passing percentage
Matt Cassell .... 3,693 passing yards.... 21 passing TD's...... 11 interceptions........ 63.4 passing percentage
Chad Pennington ... 3,653 passing TD's... 19* passing TD's.... 7 interceptions..... 67.4 passing percentage
All in all, a pretty great group of quarterbacks. With the exception of Favre, if your team has any of those quarterbacks going into this season, you are not worried about the QB position. There are only a few others out there who would make one's team feel comfortable: Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger are the only other legit examples. After that, you can start poking holes pretty easily in every other QB.
That is your upper echelon of QB's folks. Including Favre, Romo, Eli Manning, Ryan, and Roethlisberger, there are 14 quarterbacks listed. Without Favre, you have 13 top QB's, with maybe 3 tiers. Any team that has one of these QB's has a pretty good weapon on offense.
Now let's look at the top 10 or so running backs last year. I'm going to use the following categories to observe the running backs: rushing yards, average yards per rush, td's and I'm throwing receptions and receiving yards since a lot of running backs are a little more versatile these days. However, because I think that you need a running back who can carry the bulk of your yards rushing, I am going to go from most yards rushing down to about 1100 yards, because that's about 10 or so of the top running backs by total rushing yards. If you disagree, then please let me know which name you would take off of the list. As I did with the QB's, I will note some other stellar running backs who are not on the top list.
Adrian Peterson... 1,760 rushing yards.... 4.8 average... 10 TD's.... 21 receptions... 125 receiving yards - 0 rec. TD's
Michael Turner..... 1,699 rushing yards.... 4.5 average... 17 TD's.... 6 receptions...... 41 rec. yards - 0 rec. TD's
DeAngelo Williams.... 1,515 rush yards.... 5.5 average... 18 TD's... 22 receptions.... 121 rec. yards - 2 rec. TD's
Clinton Portis...... 1,487 rushing yards..... 4.3 average..... 9 TD's.... 28 receptions..... 218 rec. yards - 0 rec. TD's
Thomas Jones.... 1,312 rushing yards.... 4.5 average..... 13 TD's... 36 receptions.... 207 rec. yards - 2 rec. TD's
Steve Slaton........ 1,282 rushing yards..... 4.8 average..... 9 TD's..... 50 receptions.... 377 rec. yards - 1 rec. TD
Matt Forte............. 1,238 rushing yards..... 3.9 average...... 8 TD's..... 63 receptions.... 477 rec. yards - 4 rec. TD's
Chris Johnson..... 1,228 rushing yards.... 4.9 average...... 9 TD's..... 43 receptions.... 260 rec. yards - 1 rec. TD
Ryan Grant........... 1,203 rushing yards..... 3.9 average...... 4 TD's..... 18 receptions.... 116 rec. yards - 1 rec. TD
Ladanian Tomlinson... 1,110 rushing yards... 3.8 average... 11 TD's... 52 receptions... 426 rec. yards - 1 rec. TD
Now, any time you have a running back rushing for 1,100 or more yards, you are pretty set at RB. There are guys like Reggie Bush who, while being great assets on offense, require someone else to get the bulk of, or at least as many carries; you know, the guy that can run between the tackles. This is key in the NFL. No way around that one.
I would say that any running back who was able to carry the ball 200 or more times for their team was the main rusher, with anybody else on the team being more of a role-type running back. Reggie Bush only had 106 rushes for 404 yards. He only played in 10 games! Don't even try and predict what his numbers would have been over 16 games because a key part of being a starting running back in the NFL is being able to take the brunt force for 16 games! In baseball you can't just say a pitcher is better than another pitcher because "if he had pitched 200 innings" his numbers would have been so much better. A huge part of being a starting pitcher in baseball is being able to take on those innings and be an innings eater. Again, kind of an iffy analogy, but I think in its general comparison you can see the point I am making.
The Bears now have a starting Quarterback and a starting Runningback that fall into the top 12 or so at their respective position. Michael Turner and Matt Ryan are one great duo at runningback and quarterback. Brett Favre and Thomas Jones were a top combo in the league last year. Eli Manning and Brandon Jacobs were also one of the top tandems. Phillip Rivers and LT were as solid as ever. Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Grant were a surprisingly stellar pairing. Marc Bulger and Stephen Jackson were also a pretty good combo. For the most part, those teams did not lose because of their QB/RB play. The Jets imploded and so did the the Broncos. But just as much blame, if not more, could be placed on the paultry defenses. Green Bay certainly had a much better offense than defense. I don't think anyone in GB is screaming to scrap the QB and RB. Nor in San Diego are they clamoring for a better offense. As far as offense goes, those teams had the weapons to win.
Now, I will move on to one more interesting subject: Denver's running game last year. The Broncos averaged more rushing yards per game (116.4 - 12th in the league) than the Bears (104.6 - 24th in the league).
I was shocked when I saw that stat. Denver's running game was supposedly in shambles, and yet they averaged more yards per game than the Bears? So, it occurred to me that the Bears did play more of a "win the field-position battle and don't make too many mistakes" type of game while the Broncos obviously had more of a "just outscore the other team" kind of gameplan. I think as coach in the NFL, or in any sport for that matter, you are going to adjust your style of play based on the types of players you have. You won't see the Pheonix Suns running as much with Shaq on the floor, the same way you are probably not going to run-n-gun with Kyle Orton as your QB. You're also not going to run the ball like crazy if Drew Brees or Peyton Manning are your QB's, which is not to say that you can't have a stellar running game and passing game. But I think you can see the point I am making. So, after seeing the stats on the Broncos' running game and the Bears' running game, I decided to look at the actual running backs on each team.
Denver Broncos, running backs by games played, rushes, yards, and rushing average:
Note: I included every rusher who accumulated 100 or more yards last season for the Broncos.
P.J. Pope - 6 games - 17 rushes - 130 yards - 7.6 rushing average
Andre Hall - 8 games - 25 rushes - 144 yards - 4.1 rushing average
Tatum Bell - 7 games - 44 rushes - 249 yards - 5.7 rushing average
Selvin Young - 8 games - 61 rushes - 303 yards - 5.0 rushing average
Michael Pittman - 8 games - 76 rushes - 320 yards - 4.2 rushing average
Peyton Hillis - 12 games - 68 rushes - 343 yards - 5.0 rushing average
(Jay Cutler - 16 games - 57 rushes - 200 yards - 3.5 rushing average)
I have to say, I did not keep track of the Broncos running game last year, can someone please tell me why they had 7 players who recorded at least 100 rushing yards for them? Did they just have that many injuries? You would think that with 4 players having a 5.0 or better rushing average that one of them would have been able to take hold of the starting spot. I know Denver has loved using multiple runningbacks in the past, but really.... 6 rushers accumulating at least 100 yards and the QB going for 200 as well? And don't say "well Cutler doesn't count, he's a QB" because you wouldn't say it about Vick... 200 yards rushing is 200 yards rushing. Anyhow, I could be the illogical type and say, "well, the Broncos had good WR's and four good RB's and that is why Cutler could stand back and throw the ball and not get sacked very much." Or I could be reasonable and say, "Denver had a Pro Bowl QB and that is why their receivers had success and that is why no matter who they put in the back field they were able to succeed at running the ball." I could also guess that their O-line was pretty decent, if not stellar.
Now let's look at the Bears running backs last year who recorded at least 100 rushing yards:
Note: Please, take your time, this list is a long one!
Matt Forte - 16 games - 316 rushes - 1,238 rushing yards - 3.9 average
Kevin Jones - 11 games - 34 rushes - 109 rushing yards - 3.2 average
Adrian Peterson Lite - 15 games - 20 rushes - 100 rushing yards - 5.0 average
Wow, so if rushing average were everything then the Broncos had 6 ball-carriers better than Matt Forte last year. Not only that, but the Bears third option was better than their starter! Well, good thing rushing average isn't everything or else LaDanian Tomlinson and his 3.8 rushing average last year would have retired.
So, here is my final take on all of this.... you can spit out all of the stats you want, but it really does come down to the eye test; the stats just help support the story at the end of the day. There is no stat for Orton overthrowing Hester by 5-6 yards, or throwing at teh feet of someone on a slant route. Just like there's no real stat for Cutler putting the ball in the hands of the receiver that is 30+ yards down field.
There's no stat that says, "hey guys, look, Forte didn't rush the ball for a high average, but he rushed the ball every game, every Sunday 20-25+ times... he gave stability to the RB position."
All-in-all, my final take is this: you can't just say Greg Olsen and Dez Clark don't count as receivers. You can't say Forte doesn't count as a receiver. Those three right there are a huge part of the receiving game. That doesn't make the Bears passing game a bad one. It does say a bit about the fact that we didn't have too many established, starting WR's last year. Certainly if we had a TO, Randy Moss, or Boldin, the QB would have been throwing more to that WR and thus less to the other three mentioned. But when you take into account, Forte, Hester, Olsen, and Clark and add into that mix guys like Iglesias, Bennett, Rideau, and Knox, you have to come to the conclusion that the offense will not be the weak link of this team next year. I'll even go as far as saying that the Bears have a top 10 offense.
In fact, I like the Bears' offense a heck of a lot more than I like the Broncos' offense. If I were a fan of that team, I would be a bit worried about the offensive situation. But I'm also pretty honest with myself.
Honestly, the Bears defense can only be better than it was last year, in my opinion. The Bears with a so-so offense went 9-7. With the additions on offense, plus a most-likely slightly improved defense at the least, I like the Bears chances of going 11-5. Honestly, I think 13-3ish is achievable depending on the play of the defense.
Take that post how you will. I hope you enjoyed my first post here on the WCG.
Oh, and compare Orton and any of those 6 running backs on Denver to the other combos around the league... If you're a Broncos fan you might start to worry if you are honest with yourself.