By the numbers: How Cutler stacks up to the NFL's All-Time best


I'm getting rather annoyed with arguments trying to convince others that Jay Cutler isn't all that good. And, when numbers are thrown around to back these arguments, people somehow ignore the most evaluation worthy statistics, and instead cherry pick something to bash.  So, I've decided to give you a comparison on percentages amongst the all-time leaders. It's a much better sample size for comparison that any argument that's already been given around here.

These QBs all have had long successful careers, as it takes longevity to achieve these numbers. Because of the longevity, it's unfair to simply look at flat numbers like total yards, TDs, and INTs for comparison. However, we can look at percentages per pass attempt to give a better comparison.

The main career numbers we'll focus on here are:

  • Completion %
  • TD % (percentage of TDs per pass attempt, higher # is better)
  • INT% (percentage of INTs per pass attempt, lower # is better)
  • QB Rating

We'll focus on the total career numbers, instead of just highlighting the QBs best years, while in their prime. This will allow us to factor in the lesser stats in their early years (while developing) and in their later years (while in decline due to age). Having the lesser stats averaged in, will help us draw an even better comparison overall to a QB who's only played 3 seasons thus far (years 1 and 2 could be considered Cutler's developmental years).

Here are the numbers of the NFLs All-time Top 10 Passers
All numbers are courtesy of Pro-Football Reference

Top 10 All-time Passing Leaders (Yards)

1. Brett Favre | 65,127 | COMP% = 61.6 | TD% = 5.0 | INT% = 3.3 | QB RATING = 85.4
2. Dan Marino | 61,361 | COMP% = 59.4 | TD% = 5.0 | INT% = 3.0 | QB RATING = 86.4
3. John Elway | 51,475 | COMP% = 56.9| TD% = 4.1 | INT% = 3.1 | QB RATING = 79.9
4. Warren Moon | 49,325 | COMP% = 58.4 | TD% = 4.3 | INT% = 3.4 | QB RATING = 80.9
5. Fran Tarkenton | 47,003 | COMP% = 57.0 | TD% = 5.3 | INT% = 4.1 | QB RATING = 80.4
6. Vinny Testaverde | 46,223 | COMP% = 56.5 | TD% = 4.1 | INT% = 4.0 | QB RATING = 75.0
7. Peyton Manning | 45,628 | COMP% = 64.4 | TD% = 5.6 | INT% = 2.8 | QB RATING = 94.7
8. Drew Bledsoe | 44,611 | COMP% = 57.2 | TD% = 3.7 | INT% = 3.1 | QB RATING = 77.1
9. Dan Fouts | 43,040 | COMP% = 58.8 | TD% = 4.5 | INT% = 4.3 | QB RATING = 80.2
10. Joe Montana | 40,551 | COMP% = 63.2 | TD% = 5.1 | INT% = 2.6 | QB RATING = 92.3

I've bolded the best numbers of all 4 categories. It's no surprise that Peyton Manning leads the top ten in 3 out of the 4 categories. He is simply proving to be one of the best ever, and while those numbers are sure to average down as he ages, his current accomplishment is amazing. Also, in comparison, Joe Montana's numbers are absolutely incredible... add in the SBs and MVPs, and he should have more consideration as the best of all time, when having that discussion.

One QB not on this list who I'd like to highlight is Kerry Collins. A poster in another thread, Doc's Sports Predictions Guy, argued that Jay Cutler's ceiling is merely Kerry Collins. Well, Collins is the #14 All-Time leading passer in NFL history. Not too shabby, but let's take a look.

To quote Doc:
"But Cutler’s ceiling is Kerry Collins, who really came back strong last year to resuscitate the career. But that’s who Jay Cutler is – Kerry Collins."

The stats:
14. Kerry Collins | 37,393 | COMP% = 55.7 | TD% = 3.3 | INT% = 3.2 | QB RATING = 73.8

More on Collins vs Cutler below, but first...  let's add up the combined averages of the NFL's Top 10 All-Time Passers

COMP% = 59.3 | TD% = 4.6 | INT% = 3.4 | QB RATING = 83.2

Now, let's compare our Chicago Bear QBs to the combined averages of the Top 10

Jay Cutler | COMP% = 62.5 | TD% = 4.4 | INT% = 3.0 | QB RATING = 87.1

Rex Grossman | COMP% = 54.2 | TD% = 3.4 | INT% = 3.6 | QB RATING = 70.2

Kyle Orton | COMP% = 55.3 | TD% = 3.3 | INT% = 3.0 | QB RATING = 71.1

And, just for kicks, let's throw in the last QB the Bears traded away a 1st round pick for

Rick Mirer | COMP% = 53.3 | TD% = 2.4 | INT% = 3.7 | QB RATING = 63.5

So, what do we get here? Once again, I've bolded the best numbers in the comparison.

Jay Cutler's current numbers after just 3 seasons are better in 3 out of 4 categories, among the combined career averages of the NFL's All Time Top 10 Passers. Cutler's TD% (4.4) was two points less than the combined average (4.6). However, that 4.4 was better than 3 of the top 10 (Elway 4.1, Testaverde 4.1, and Bledsoe 3.7). Cutler's completion % and QB rating trail only Manning and Montana.

Cutler's numbers also bury Kerry Collins' career numbers in every category. Collins has a career 55.7 completion %, and has had only 2 seasons out of his 14 years, where he completed more than 60% of his passes. Cutler's gone 59.1%, 63.6%, and 62.3%. If that trend continues, it will render the two QBs as bad comparisons. Not only that, but the styles of play are different. Collins is more of a statue pocket passer, and Cutler is an escape artist who buys more time to extend the play.

On the flip side, Rex Grossman is the only QB on this list who's INT% (3.6) is higher than his TD% (3.4). And, both Grossman (54.2) and Kyle Orton (55.3) wouldn't crack the top 10 in Completion %.

Now, can we put all this garbage to rest? Newsflash: Jay Cutler's a pretty darn good QB. We're not talking about Rick Mirer here. 

<em>This FanPost was written by a Windy City Gridiron member, and does not necessarily reflect the ideas or opinions of its staff or community.</em>

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