This morning I returned from a trip to Chicago, not only with newfound appreciation for lasagna masquerading as pizza, but also for what competent quarterbacking looks like. During Monday night’s schooling at the hands of a quarterback making his second career start, Jay Cutler threw another classically terrible interception, before walking off of Soldier Field in a moment that truly felt like the beginning of his end in the Windy City.
Cutler will be out for at least a few weeks with another thumb injury, and the rebuilding Bears have to already be prepping for which QB’s name they’ll be calling next April. While Cutler may own every significant Bears passing record, he hasn’t been able to win consistently with this team, and now is as good a time as any to move on. (Actually the best time to move on would have been before his seven-year, $126 million deal, but I digress.)
Having spent a fair share of the last seven years operating as a Cutler apologist, it’s hard for me to just let go. It’s even harder for me to stand by while the Stephen A. Smith’s of the world call him “the worst quarterback in football.” Cutler’s like a gas station burrito; he may not be your first choice for late-night eats, but he’s better than going hungry.
And so, since my Week 1 Power Rankings are still flawless, this week I thought we’d update the QB rankings, using our new (patent-pending) Cutler quarterbacking scale. Are there really 31 QBs in this league that are better than him? (Hint, no.) Let’s see where the QBs stack up with (sadly) the Bears’ all-time leading passer.
(The number next to their name represents their ranking, not where they appear on the page. The next ranking will be more in-ordery, I swear.)
2016 Week 2 QB Rankings
So obviously better than Cutler, it doesn’t need to be said
1. Cam Newton
2. Aaron Rodgers
3. Ben Roethlisberger
4. Drew Brees
5. Tom Brady
6. Andrew Luck
Super Bowl winners, MVPs, players that require a specific game plan to stop their unique skill sets: all of these qualities are simply un-Cutler-esque. That’s why these are the cream of the crop.
The list of the NFL’s absolute best hasn’t changed much over the past year, but arguments of who ranks where are certainly welcome after Rodgers and the Packers offense have gotten off to a sluggish start. Tom Brady will likely ascend the rankings once we see him return, but at 39-years-old, there’s still the cloud of a sudden drop-off lingering over his head.
The guys who are flawed, but you’d still much rather have over Cutler
7. Eli Manning
8. Andy Dalton
9. Russell Wilson
10. Phillip Rivers
11. Carson Palmer
12. Joe Flacco
13. Derek Carr
14. Alex Smith
15. Matt Stafford
16. Matt Ryan
Be it accuracy issues, untimely turnovers, or zero playoff success, these quarterbacks aren’t infallible, yet you still wouldn’t trade them for Cutler if he was pooping out Hope diamonds.
This upper-middle tier could see its fair share of shakeups this year, as Russell Wilson struggles with injuries behind a bad offensive line while Phillip Rivers continues to thrive on a banged up Chargers squad. Joe Flacco has looked shaky coming off an ACL injury, and the shine of his 2012 Super Bowl has all but worn off. Matt Ryan acts as the perfect cutoff: while nobody believes you can win a Super Bowl with him, there’s also nobody calling for his job on a weekly basis.
The guys you aren’t sure are a whole lot better, but pretend they are for convenience
17. Ryan Fitzpatrick
20. Tyrod Taylor
24. Ryan Tannehill
26. Kirk Cousins
None of these QBs have been starting for as long as Cutty, and they aren’t leaders of particularly good teams. But they all recently put-up sexy fantasy numbers, so the perception is they’re more capable quarterbacks. If you replaced any one of these QBs with Jay Cutler, would the teams have just as good a chance of winning? Most likely. But if it helps Miami fans cope, who am I to tell them Tannehill isn’t better than Cutler?
The ones who are still too young to judge, but project better
18. Jameis Winston
19. Carson Wentz
21. Brock Osweiler
22. Jimmy Garoppolo
25. Dak Prescott
Famous Jameis has been wildly inconsistent to start his career, and even this season. But the ceiling he has flashed is certainly more promising than most: it makes the Bucs actually look like a smart organization, which is saying a lot. The rest of these QBs have even smaller resumes than Winston, but they’ve all shown an ability to not throw off their back foot or force balls into triple coverage, so they may just be better than Cutler some day.
Potentially the next Cutler
23. Marcus Mariota
Remember back when there was talk of the Titans trading for Cutler? Well, try not to panic Titans fans, but you may have landed mini-Cutler in last year’s draft. No, the sunny Mariota will never pout like Cutler, or smoke like Cutler, or draw the ire of teammates like Cutler. But when it comes to bad mechanics, questionable-to-downright awful decision making, and getting hit a ton, Mariota and Cutler are very similar.
Mariota has had ball security issues to begin his career, averaging 1.35 turnovers a game. It’s a small sample size, but it puts him on Cutler’s pace: the QB has averaged 1.32 turnovers a game for his career.
I wouldn’t worry too much though, Titans fans. I’ll probably be wrong on this one. After all, I thought Cutler was gonna take the Bears to new heights.
The obviously worse than Cutlers
27. Sam Bradford
28. Blake Bortles
29. Blaine Gabbert
30. Trevor Siemian
31. Case Keenum
I’m not falling for the Sam Bradford renaissance just yet, although I did always appreciate how he made an oft-injured Cutler look indestructible by comparison. King of fantasy garbage time Blake Bortles is quickly showing that he can’t live up to the already incredibly low expectations of Jaguars fans. Meanwhile, the rest of these guys are only starting because they’re the best of a bad situation. Want to make your situation better? Trade the Bears a first rounder for a veteran QB!
I mean, if Bradford could fetch one …