11 Oct We Want Moore: The Case to Bench Jay Cutler
After a debilitating loss in Foxboro, in the 2004 playoffs, Tony Dungy was fed up with the way the Patriots defended his Colts receivers. He pleaded to the competition committee for the NFL to incorporate the rule we have come to know today, as illegal contact. If the quarterback remains in the pocket, any contact five yards beyond the line of scrimmage, would institute a foul for the defense.
This rule ushered in the passing era of the NFL – and it reverberated to the college ranks.
The ripple effect of this new rule changed the way coaches coached, and the way recruiters recruited. The game evolved from a smash-mouth sport into an all-out aerial assault.
To counter this new brand of football, edge rushers became just as important as the men they were getting paid to hit. If a non-quarterback wanted the big bucks, defensive end was the position of choice.
Players that once gravitated towards the offensive side of the ball took their athletic prowess to defense. Not only was it the fastest track to an eight-figure salary, the glamor of the position dwarfed that of its counterpart, offensive lineman.
Twelve years into this new era, and the NFL is starved for quality offensive line play.
As a result, the quarterbacks of the league had to change their style. Stationary quarterbacks couldn’t survive in a league full of live bullets.
Two options arose.
- Traditional drop back quarterbacks had to learn to navigate collapsing pockets: or,
- Train athletes to start playing quarterbacks.
Russell Wilson fits the latter description. Don’t make the mistake of pigeonholing Wilson as just an athlete, though – he’s a tremendous quarterback.
When the Seahawks recognized they uncovered a superstar quarterback, the brain trust went to work sculpting the roster around his abilities. Why spend big money, or high draft picks, on offensive linemen when the quarterback can mitigate a superior pass rush?
Wilson, beyond a hodge-podge offensive line, deals with more pressure than any quarterback in the league.
Snap to pressure: 2.03 seconds
Every quarterback can’t pull the perpetual Houdini Act that Wilson routinely does.
It isn’t just the mobile quarterbacks. Tom Brady, and his infamous 5.28 40-yard dash time might be the slowest moving quarterback in football – especially at age 40.
Brady is a master of manipulating launch points with subtle movement despite his linemen getting beat by the pass rush.
Snap to pressure: 1.88 seconds
Snap to pressure: 1.92 seconds
To be fair, Tom Brady is arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time. He’s had a lot of time to learn the nuances of playing quarterback. What about a green quarterback with just 21 NFL games under his belt?
Carson Wentz excels at extending plays. While the Eagles offensive line is one of the league’s best, every unit gets beat from time-to-time. And when they do, Wentz is capable of some truly electrifying acrobatics.
Snap to pressure: 2.02 seconds
It’s not just about being able to move around. The quarterback has to be willing to stand in, under the face of pressure, and deliver a strike knowing full well he’s about to take it on the chin.
Snap to pressure: 1.86 seconds
There’s a reason Wentz was picked second overall in the 2016 NFL Draft – he’s got all the traits scouts desire.
Not every player is blessed with the natural talent to make them a coveted, golden-armed-gunslinger.
Case Keenum has bounced around the league. On his fifth team in six NFL seasons, the undrafted product has found recent success in relief of Vikings starting quarterback, Sam Bradford.
The Minnesota offensive line, although improved, was as maligned as any front-five in the NFL in 2016. Even with the upgrades, Keenum has had his fair share of quick-arriving pass rushers bearing down on him.
Snap to pressure: 2.1 seconds
The six-year veteran understood that, to survive in this league, he’s going to have to stare down the gun-barrel.
Snap to pressure: 2.5 seconds
On the rare occasions that there is an open plain with which to deliver a strike, it’s important that the quarterback sets his feet, squares his shoulders, and drives the football from his base.
Jay Cutler was ticketed for a career in broadcasting. With a polarizing playing-career seemingly behind him, the Dolphins came knocking and made an offer he couldn’t refuse. So without the benefit of an off-season program, and a self-admitted minimal workout regimen, Cutler took his talents to South Beach.
Miami’s offensive line has had plenty of well-documented issues in recent years. While there are a number of plays where Cutler is merely a sitting duck behind a play, wrecked by poor pass protection, he has left plenty of plays on the field.
Snap to pressure: 2.53 seconds
Snap to pressure: 2.62 seconds
This play occurred in Miami’s second game under Jay Cutler. On just the second possession, Cutler stood in the face of pressure and took a shot.
He has been reluctant to do so since.
Snap to pressure: 2.7 seconds
As mentioned earlier, mechanics are crucial to playing quarterback. The occasions when a quarterback has time to move, set his feet, and fire are rare. These are two instances of Cutler displaying lazy mechanics, and his accuracy suffering as a result.
The offensive line is essentially the same, if not better, than the one Ryan Tannehill navigated to the post-season in 2016. For that matter, Matt Moore made plays when he was inserted in to the line-up for Tannehill after a knee injury.
Most teams have offensive line problems. Some teams have quarterbacks that can handle it, some don’t.
The Dolphins do. He’s just currently holding a clipboard.