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Sunday, April 5, 2009
Football Outsiders weighs in

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

I have a hunch you'll be interested in these numbers as you munch your Sunday brunch. That is, if you can stop thinking about green eggs and ham after reading the preceding sentence.

 Cutler

Anyway, we've analyzed the Jay Cutler trade in just about every way imaginable, but there's one more we couldn't begin to touch on our own. Our friends at Football Outsiders bring a unique perspective of quantitative analysis to the NFL, and their take on Cutler's career thus far is informative and revealing.

There has been plenty of discussion about Cutler's role in the Broncos' offensive success relative to their long-proven system and stable of talent. How much was Cutler and how much was Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal and Mike Shanahan? And how good could have Cutler been if the Broncos maxed out at 8-8 last season?

The Outsiders crew judges quarterbacks based on what they add to an offense, comparing their performance to that of an "average" quarterback. The statistic is known as DYAR (Defensive-adjusted Yards After Replacement). If you're curious about how this works, check here.

You'll need an Insider subscription to read the entirety of this analysis from Outsiders' Aaron Schatz. But in Schatz's estimation, Cutler was one of the five best quarterbacks in the NFL last season. Based on DYAR, Cutler threw for 1,382 more yards than an "average" quarterback would have in the Broncos' offense.

Meanwhile, based on Outsiders' methods, Cutler last year played with the second-worst NFL defense in the past 15 seasons. And, as we humbly noted Friday, Cutler had a 94.2 passer rating in the fourth quarter last season. Those two measures would seem to limit his responsibilities for the Broncos' eight losses last season.

I know these statistics are neither fool-proof nor without exception. But I always like the way Outsiders provides reasoned documentation to back up or contradict anecdotal observations.