TOUGH DECISION FOR BEARS. I think the real Jay Cutler story from Sunday may be how the offense kept right on chugging along after his departure. People will be quick to write off the Bears, but the offense was fine with McCown back there, the defense was the problem. If the offense keeps playing at a high level with Jay on the sidelines, I don’t see how Phil Emery can justify giving No. 6 a big contract in the offseason. Especially with what is appearing to be a real old defense also in need of a scheme change, the money needs to be flowing to that side of the ball.
—Sgt Joseph K. Atherton, Norfolk, Va.
This is a very interesting question. I believe in the next three years, there will be somewhere between 15 and 20 draft-eligible quarterbacks with first-round grades. If you are a man who trusts his personnel judgment, and Emery does, you might say that it would be smarter to draft one of the bright quarterback prospects and pay him a fraction of what Cutler would cost over the next four or five years. I think Bears fans who would call you mistaken for suggesting Chicago should give up on Cutler are not seeing the full story the way you are. And I’m not suggesting they should give up on Cutler. I am suggesting it is worth considering.
BIG MONEY QUESTION. Your article on Peyton Manning’s return to Indy got me wondering: is winning the Super Bowl (statistically) a young man’s game? Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger got their rings early, but it seems like early success leads to big salaries, then worse surrounding casts, then at best deep playoff runs but no more championships. Does the data agree? Does a big QB payday make it harder for a team to win the big one?
Good question, one to bookmark for a deeper dive down the road. But one thing to mention: Early success, either by winning a Super Bowl or by putting up great numbers, leads to huge salaries. Matt Ryan has won a bunch of games and accumulated very good stats, but hasn’t won a Super Bowl. Now he is being paid with the highest-paid players in the game. So, I don’t think that making huge money exclusively means that you have to win the Super Bowl.
HESTER A HOFER? For years, I’ve believed that when (and if) the Hall of Fame inducts a special teamer, it should be Steve Tasker. Now, I’m beginning to wonder if that special teamer shouldn’t be Devin Hester. His 19 return TDs are more impressive than Deion Sanders, since he didn’t have the benefit of interception returns being included. Does Hester merit serious discussion in the voting room when he becomes eligible?
—Marvin L. Longabaugh, Navasota, Texas
Absolutely. He has been the best player in his era at a very important task. I’m not sure I’ll be in the room when his candidacy is debated, but I would consider him strongly. I do feel, however, that we will have one or more special-teamers elected in the next few years. That’s my hope, anyway. And I hope it starts with Tasker.
I’M NOT A JETS HATER. Love the column, but how can you include Geno’s pick-six in what you didn’t like about Week 7, but no one else’s? I get that it was a huge blow to the Jets who were driving, but how was it any worse than Brady’s pick-six at the start of the third quarter that brought the Jets back into the game? This doesn’t even reflect the fact that Jay Cutler, Ryan Tannenhill, and Sam Bradford all threw pick-sixes Sunday. Any reason to include the one QB who won and not the four who lost besides an anti-Jets bias (although I’m surprised they made your Fine 15 this week)?
As I wrote, Geno took the snap, stared at the receiver, saw him covered closely, and threw the ball anyway. It was a huge mistake. Just because the Jets came back to win doesn’t mean the play was insignificant. I didn’t see the same error by Brady when he threw the ball. Brady, I thought, did have a poor game.
LET’S LOOK AT THE RATINGS. Peter, I’d like to hear your thoughts on how so many of us (myself included) can think Andrew Luck is one of the best QBs in the NFL, yet after seven games his QB rating is about as mediocre as it can be: 91.3. That ranks 15th in the NFL, just a few decimal points above the mid-point, more than 30 points below league leader, Peyton Manning. It’s easy to just dismiss the formula as being flawed, but is it?
Quarterback rating has some value, but it’s not foolproof. It weighs interceptions far too heavily, and doesn’t weigh at all performances at different times of the game, such as in the fourth quarter. I wouldn’t consider quarterback rating as a tremendously important factor in the quality of a quarterback’s play. How, for instance, can Luck’s nine fourth-quarter comebacks not be a major factor in determining his worth? I believe they are. I do use quarterback rating as one measure. But it’s not the only one.