Entering Sunday will be two quarterbacks who have a history of intense scrutiny. In Jacksonville Blaine Gabbert can’t seem to get the national media off his back as he struggles to begin his pro career. In Chicago Jay Cutler is the franchise quarterback of a team with a rabid fanbase and has been criticized for anything from tossing 26 picks in his first season with the Bears to “quitting” on his team in the NFC Championship game.
I wasn’t a big fan of the Jay Cutler trade when I lived in Minnesota. I was comfortable with the Kyle Orton air attack and Cutler brought another gunslinger in just when we all though Brett Favre was no longer going to play. Cutler didn’t help his case with the interceptions he seemed to throw up every time he dropped back. But no matter what the statistics said, Cutler presented a threat that was far greater than any quarterback the team had fielded in years.
That’s just it about Cutler though, he’s mostly just a threat – for good reason though. On the season he has five touchdowns, six interceptions, 917 yards, and is only hitting 57% of his passes. While we all know Cutler is able to produce much better numbers than that, his stats just aren’t that great. The most telling statistic is his six interceptions on 117 attempts. His interception percentage, 5.1 is .4 higher than the season he led the league in picks (2009).
To compare, Gabbert has five touchdowns, one interception, 654 yards, and is only hitting on 56% of his passes. There’s something to be said about playing a brand of football that is more about protecting the ball. While on the surface it looks like Gabbert may be better simply because he knows how to not throw the interception, the most telling statistic here is his 654 yards on 113 attempts. His 5.8 yards per attempt make him look like a high school quarterback in a rural district playing against the big schools in the city. Cutler averages a full two more yards per attempt than Gabbert on only four more total passes.
Entering Sunday’s game, these two players are struggling to show why they are worth starting for their respective franchises. Cutler and Gabbert are not displaying new struggles to their fans. Everyone knows that a Gabbert-led offense is anemic and everyone knows that a Cutler-led offense is turnover prone. On Sunday we’ll see which is better: the gunslinger with the threat of the big play or the game manager.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims