Both of these players were top draft picks who were selected by teams that needed a franchise quarterback to lead them to a Super Bowl. Of the two, Rivers has compiled more wins and has gotten to the playoffs
Because of the discrepancy in roster talent, I've decided to approach the Rivers vs Cutler debate by looking at how they both played in losses in 2007. I hope that this approach will shed some light on how these guys affect their team's ability to win. And as a result of these findings, hopefully a definitive argument can be made as to who the better QB truly is. So lets take a look at the numbers:
In Philip Rivers' six losses (including the playoffs) last season, he averaged a passer rating of 66.4 with 6 touchdowns to 8 interceptions. Lets take it one step further and truncate the average by removing Rivers' highest and lowest ratings. We'll toss out Rivers' week 3 loss against the Packers (116.2) and his playoff loss to the Patriots (46.1).
Passer rating in losses (truncated average) = 59.3 - 3 TDs, 3 INTs
Passer rating in regular season (average) = 82.4 - 21 TDS, 15 INTs, 460 Att
We'll use the same math to find Jay Cutler's numbers by removing his week 3 loss (96.6) and his week 16 loss in San Diego (32.7).
Passer rating in losses (truncated average) = 80.7 - 5 TDs, 5 INTs
Passer rating in regular season (average) = 88.1 - 20 TDS, 14 INTs, 467 Att
The regular season numbers are very similar between the two quarterbacks. They are so close in fact that you can call it a wash. However, when looking at how these guys fared in losses, Jay Cutler generally played better...at least thats what the numbers tell us. So you can make an argument that despite Cutler playing well (80.7 truncated average passer rating in losses), the Denver Broncos still lost ball games.
Philip Rivers on the other hand, seemed to have the greater effect on his team's chances. When Rivers struggled, the team struggled. When the Chargers won despite Rivers playing poorly (30.6 passer rating) it was usually by squeaking one out, like the 23-21 win over the Colts in week 10.
Of course there are also a couple of other important factors to consider; the intangibles like experience, leadership, passion, and knowledge of the game. You could argue that Philip Rivers has more of each, having grown up the child of a football coach and then going on to play (and win) a ton of games in college and the pros. We've seen the kind of passion the Philip Rivers plays the game with, and we've seen his determination to play, even through tremendous pain.
What stands out the most to me about Rivers is that he has the unique ability to carry a team on his back. The Chargers go as Rivers goes, and without him they would be in dire straights. Cutler is a good player and has good numbers, but does he have the intangibles and the ability to make the players around him better? That has yet to be seen...
If anyone wants to speak on this topic, feel free to drop a comment in and give your take!
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