Mel Kiper, ESPN's long-time draft "guru" -- in quotes because he misses badly as much as he hits -- definitely agrees with me. He also thinks Cassel is better than Cutler, but that's not why we're here. He seems to have way too much personal disdain built up toward Cutler.
"This guy was overhyped at the combine, he was overhyped at Senior Bowl week, he's been overhyped before he was drafted. The media, they love Jay Cutler. Jay Cutler can do no wrong. I've been saying he's overrated since day one. Everyone's been pounding their chests saying, 'Oh, I love Jay Cutler, I'm a genius.' They have egg on their face now."Take a step back, Mel, and think about what you are saying, because this is a flat-out comical rant. Comical because it's unbelievably false. The last line is the punchline of this joke. People who liked Cutler coming out of the draft have "egg on their face?" What? He's coming off a Pro Bowl season where he threw for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdown passes. Kiper's argument revolved around the wins and losses, though. You see, the Broncos are only 17-20 in games that Cutler has started. Oh, I get it.
How dare Jay Cutler not play good enough defense to help the Broncos win more games! Seriously, how much can you pin on the quarterback? Only the hapless Rams and Lions allowed more points than the Broncos defense last season. Only the Seahawks, Chiefs and Lions allowed more yardage. That was, if you hear it from Mel, Cutler's fault. He didn't explicitly say it, but he didn't have to. When you point to won-loss record, you are indirectly attributing losses to the quarterback. If you don't want to take that leap, don't use the record as a barometer of how to judge the signal-caller.
How Cutler won eight games with this kind of defensive support is actually a very significant statement about his ability to lead an offense. Look at the teams I mentioned above who had similar defensive output as the Broncos. They all sucked, big-time. The Broncos were a tiebreaker away from the playoffs. Why? Well, only the Saints gained more yards than Denver. Only Kurt Warner and Drew Brees passed for more yards than Cutler. The third-year kid from Vandy also ranked seventh in touchdown passes. I'm going to have to say that he's one of the main reasons Denver even had a shot at the postseason -- as would any fan with a brain.
As if his above comments weren't absurd enough, Kiper compounded them by making an ill-conceived comparison.
Kiper compares Cutler to Jeff George. "Jeff George had a great arm, and Jeff George had a lot of great games in this league, and people were putting Jeff George in the HOF early in his career," Kiper says. "So I'm just telling you, this is ridiculous."No, Mel, you are being ridiculous. Jay Cutler has played three seasons and started 37 games. Jeff George made 38 starts through his first three seasons. Cutler has racked up 9,024 yards, 54 touchdown passes, and a Pro Bowl in that time. George threw for 7,053 yards and 33 touchdowns in that time, and he didn't even come close to sniffing a Pro Bowl. Cutler's quarterback rating in the same time span is more than 15 points higher, so you really should not be comparing the two. Also, to the comment about "people putting Jeff George in the HOF," I'd like to see some evidence. I lived in Indianapolis at the time, and I can tell you there weren't many more detested sports figures in the area. I was only a middle-schooler, but I can't think of a single media person who was hailing Jeff George as a Hall of Famer after his third season.
I can only assume Kiper is still clouded with bitterness over the 2006 draft. He hated Cutler leading up to the draft, as you can tell from the above quotes. He also loved Matt Leinart. Cutler was picked after Leinart, and he's already proven a far superior NFL quarterback. In fact, if you put this situation in the context of Kiper's monumental throw-down with colleague Todd McShay, it gets even funnier. Kiper was going nuts on McShay because he believed the Lions should draft Matthew Stafford, even if they have him slotted as the eighth best overall player on their board. His rationale? That position is just that important. If the Broncos drafted a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback 11th overall in 2006 -- the third, but best, quarterback taken that year -- and you hated the pick, Mel, who is really the one with egg on his face?