Why Jay Cutler is a Better Quarterback Than Matt Ryan
While basking in my Bears euphoria during the second half of their beat down against the Seahawks on Sunday, I made an offhand comment that seemed quite obvious at the time but is apparently quite contrarian: I would rather have Jay Cutler than Matt Ryan as my quarterback. My friends (many of whom are also Bears fans) instantly scoffed at me, including The Football Girl herself, who then took to Twitter to pose the question to her followers. Sure enough, it was unanimous on Twitter as well that Ryan is better than Cutler.
Well, friends and twitterites (I refuse to say Tweeps), your derision has only strengthened my resolve to further my case. Let me just preface my argument by stating that I recognize Cutler is far from an elite quarterback. A Brady, Manning, Brees, and now Rodgers, he is not. But in that second tier, which both Cutler and Ryan occupy, there is much room for debate.
And in this debate, there is only one relevant question to ask: Which QB gives me the best chance to win a Super Bowl? Not secure the #1 seed, bring those Tebowesque “intangibles,” give a good interview, or rally a fan base. Win the Super Bowl. The clear answer to that question is Jay Cutler.
We could go into stats, but they’re fairly obvious. Ryan’s career QB rating is slightly higher, with this being his best year (11th in the league vs. 16th for Cutler). Cutler throws for more yards, has more big plays and TDs, but also way more picks. The more important statistic is this: Matt Ryan has played two playoff games in his career and lost both of them, throwing 2 picks in each game, including the backbreaking pick 6 at the end of the first half in last Saturday night’s game against the Packers. On Sunday, Cutler dominated his one and only performance.
The tag on Cutler is that despite his unique combination of arm strength, quick release, accuracy, and athleticism (matched only by Rodgers), he’s not a leader and has a penchant for boneheaded plays. It’s hard to argue with this general statement, but I would contend that, in a media-hyped world, we place way too much value on the latter over the former. Cutler has a face you just want to punch, and a personality to boot. The media hates him, and he appears to have no actual friends in the Bears’ locker room besides Greg Olsen. You know what, you could say the same for Joe Montana. Obviously, Cutler is no Montana, but in the playoffs, when you’re facing the best teams in the league, who are throwing every possible new defensive scheme at you (see New York Jets), you need talent to win. Except for the ’01 Baltimore Ravens (who are used as an example wayyyyyy to much), Super Bowls are rarely won by game managers. You have to make plays, big plays, game-changing plays. Ever since the Bears started protecting Cutler (who was still sacked 12 more times than any other QB), he’s been doing just that. And in the playoffs, Cutler is 1 for 1.
Which leads me to Matt “Matty Ice” Ryan. Certainly he’s an above average quarterback, but he’s simply overrated. If you watched any Falcons games this year (or last) their entire offensive scheme is based on a strong running game, play action, and slants/corner routes to Roddy White or dig routes to Tony Gonzalez. Because of the Falcons’ running game and receiving talent, Ryan generally has very big windows to throw (not to mention protection). Ryan does this serviceably, but he rarely makes big throws or keeps plays alive with his feet. And in the two playoff games Ryan has played, he’s folded. I don’t know where the nickname “Matty Ice” came from, but it’s time to put it to bed. You cannot have nickname that signifies clutchness until you win a playoff game.
So there you have it. Would you rather have a headcase with unique talent who can catch fire, or an above average game manager with much better support but has failed to win the big game? I, for one, will take the head case.