Losing pretty Cutler making winning ugly Plummer look great
So now Jay Cutler is mad as hell and sure looks like he's not going to take it in Denver anymore. Great. Almost makes you wish the Broncos never disposed of Jake Plummer, huh?
Well, it does me. If ever there was a quarterback done wrong it was poor Jake. He didn't throw the tightest spiral. He took too many chances. And he threw unnecessary interceptions. He was booed at home, booed on the road and shredded weekly by the hometown media for his flaws. In short, he was embraced like the Avian flu.
I will agree that he was booed unnecessarily a lot, but he also did tend to play his worst in big games.
So what's to like? This: He was 40-18 as a starter.
With the Denver Broncos, when they had a great defense and were pumping out 1,000 yard rushers like some sort of factory that makes 1,000 yard rushers.
All the guy did was win.
Except for, you know, when he lost. Like in the playoffs.
He took the Broncos to the playoffs in 2003. He did it again in 2004. He had them in the 2005 AFC Championship Game.
I'm sure Broncos fans get misty thinking of those back to back to back runner's up trophies.
Yet he was gone two seasons later, shuffled off to Tampa Bay to make way for Cutler, the second coming of John Elway. Only, he's not. He's not even the second coming of Jake Plummer,
Actually, if you believe Football Outsider's DYAR stats, Jay Cutler is almost exactly the second coming of Jake Plummer (when he was good) when it comes to regular season statistics. Except, Cutler is 9 years younger than Plummer and has never had a season as bad as Plummer's 2006 campaign.
and, no, I don't care that he throws a fast ball like Randy Johnson or that his right arm can launch space shuttles.
Because that's obviously the only argument Cutler's apologists can make for him.
I want someone who can win, and Jay Cutler is 17-20 as a starter, failing to reach the playoffs in his NFL career.
Yeah because Jake Plummer's always been a "winner," like how he was 15-21 after his first 3 seasons.
Plummer not only got there three of his four seasons in Denver, he took the Cardinals to the playoffs in 1998, their first appearance in a non-strike year in over two decades.
You know who were also good quarterbacks in 1998? Rich Gannon and Elvis Grbac.
Denver never had a losing season under Plummer. It hasn't had a winning season under Cutler. Draw your own conclusions.
My conclusion: Devner's defense and running back situation has declined dramatically in the past few years.
I have, and they go something like this: Plummer knew how to win; Cutler knows how to throw a pretty pass. I know which I'd rather have.
Explain to me how having a Quarterback (whose main responsibility is THROWING PASSES) that throws "a pretty pass" is a bad thing.
When the Broncos drafted Cutler they were coming off a 13-3 season where they beat New England and were one win from the Super Bowl. But after losing to Pittsburgh in the conference championship game, coach Mike Shanahan decided he could go no deeper into the playoffs with Plummer. So he traded up for Cutler.
For Plummer, the message was clear: His get-out-of-Denver ticket had just been punched, and Cutler would succeed him in no more than a year. Anything short of the Super Bowl wouldn't matter for Plummer, who could take his 40-18 record somewhere else and watch what could have been.
Knowing that his job was on the line, Plummer hunkered down and had one of the worst seasons of his career. Only a cagey winner would know how to do that.
Plummer didn't sulk. He didn't demand to be traded. He didn't threaten to move. And he never asked to meet with his head coach or demand an explanation.
He just played like shit until the situation worked itself out.
"Jay is going to be a hell of a player," Plummer told me that summer, "but, hopefully, when his time is right. Until that time I'm going to be the one taking the snaps.
And that time became right way earlier than most people imagined, due to Plummer's abhorrent on field play.
"Fans always like change. I understand that. It's almost like having an old girlfriend. You always think the pasture may be greener on the other side. But until Jay is ready they're going to have to deal with me."
Now that's what I want to hear from my quarterback. Don't tell me your feelings are hurt. Don't go running to your realtor. And don't mention the name Matt Cassel because if you're more concerned about what is beyond your control -- and, contrary to what he might think, Jay Cutler is not running this show -- you're doomed as a quarterback.
Hmmm, what recent Broncos quarterback was it that went into a tailspin when there was talk of him being replaced? Fuck, we were just talking about him. Don't tell me, don't tell me!
Of course, Jay Cutler is not doomed. He has a long career ahead of him, and he has a world of talent. What he doesn't have is the guts of Jake Plummer, and too bad.
All the guts that Jake Plummer had to say "I'm going to let Mike Shannahan determine when my career as and NFL Quarterback comes to an end."
/wipes tear from eye
He could learn something from his predecessor. In fact, the more I hear Cutler whine the more I'm convinced Denver owes Plummer an apology.
Sorry Pittsburgh and Indianapolis's defenses were too good for you, Jake!
He didn't score many style points while he was there; he just won. For some reason, that wasn't enough.
Because at the end of the year, no one cares about regular season victories when you make dumb mistakes in the playoffs.
Cutler, on the other hand, is cut a break ... and for what?
That even without looking at the stats (Cutler was 5th overall this past year), one should be able to tell that he's a well above average quarterback.
He took over his rookie season when the Broncos were 7-4 and lost three of five starts. No problem there. Rookie quarterbacks struggle. But then he was 7-9 in his second season and 8-8 in his third. Worse, the Broncos positively self-destructed last year, blowing a three-game lead with three weeks to go.
But he doesn't--
Yeah, I know, it wasn't Cutler's fault. It might have helped if Denver had a running back who could stay in the lineup for three weeks or a defense that didn't leak like the Titanic. But all the Broncos had to do was win one freakin' game in three tries, and they couldn't pull it off. Blame the defense all you want, but look what Cutler did down the stretch: Nothing.
In his last three games he had two touchdown passes and four interceptions. Worse, he lost to Buffalo at home on the next to last weekend of the season. I don't want to hear how he threw for 359 yards or 316 the next weekend against San Diego. He didn't win. Period. End of story.
It was literally all his fault. Nevermind that the Broncos defense provided less resistance than the British Expeditionary Force in 1940 (eat your heart out, Rick Reilly).
So his defense stunk. Kurt Warner's defense in Arizona wasn't all that great, either.
Yeah, except for when they caused two of the best offenses in the NFC to have their worst weeks on the season in consecutive games during the playoffs.
And the Cardinals' running game was worse than Denver's. In fact, it was worse than everyone. But Arizona pulled the mother of all upsets by winning the NFC and coming within 45 seconds of knocking off Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLIII. Warner overcame the club's shortcomings because that is what good quarterbacks are supposed to do.
It certainly had nothing to do with the fact that Warner had the luxury of throwing to the best WR in football that year (Fitzgerald), a guy who'd be a #1 WR on most teams (Boldin), and a 3rd WR that most teams would be happy to have as a #2 (Breaston). Other than that, it was all Warner, all by himself.
Cutler is acknowledged as one of the game's top young quarterbacks, yet he can't overcome much of anything. And that is a problem.
Peyton Manning didn't make the Playoffs till the end of his 3rd full season, and didn't actually win a playoff game until his 6th. Ipso facto: Jay Cutler will never overcome anything.
He can complain about his new head coach, too, but this just in, Jay: Josh McDaniels didn't draft you; Mike Shanahan did.
You, and anyone else on the Broncos who wasn't hand picked by McDaniels, are therefore subject to any and all moronic personnel decisions that revolve around which players the coach has a personal preference toward.
It is also evidence that Cutler might not be the quarterback we thought he was.
Only if you thought this about Cutler: "Mediocre quarterback who can't handle playing in the NFL."
So he lives in the shadow of Elway. Big deal. So did Jake Plummer. In fact, Plummer was closer to the Elway era than Cutler, so the contrasts were more apparent.
Plummer came in after nearly 5 full years of Brian Griese being the whipping boy for the Denver fans/media. Where's Griese's pity parade?
He didn't throw like Elway, but he did find a way to win -- and isn't that how we measure our quarterbacks?
No, you measure than by comparative stats that take into account the hundreds of variables in football. And even if the mouth breathing idiots who consider wins the ultimate stat say that you have to win a Superbowl to be worth a damn.
Cutler was supposed to be an improvement on Plummer, but while he has the measureables -- the size, the big arm, the accuracy -- he's as short on the intangibles as he is on victories.
Intangibles like: throwing a back breaking interception and putting a great season to waste.
Maybe we should face facts and realize that while he's no John Elway he may be no Jake Plummer, either.
Maybe you should face the facts that you have no idea what the fuck you're talking about.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Losing pretty Cutler making winning ugly Plummer look great