Philip Rivers vs Jay Cutler

One of the better debates among fans of teams in the AFC West is "who is the better quarterback - Philip Rivers or Jay Cutler?"

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 twice three times but Jay Cutler posted a fantastic year in 2007, his first full year as the starter (edit: and was a pro bowler in 2008). Both Quarterbacks are on the rise, however Rivers has the advantage of being surrounded by far better players in San Diego than those that support Cutler in Denver.

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).

Philip Rivers:

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).

Jay Cutler:

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 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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July 14, 2008

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Anonymous said... Jul 14, 2008, 3:35:00 PM

Rivers is far and away the better quarterback...he'll get his ring soon. Big Ben and Eli have theirs but Philip is next!

Anonymous said... Jul 14, 2008, 11:21:00 PM

OK. this is terrible.

This is how you judge a QB? Did his talent surrounding him all of a sudden disappear in games they loss? NO.

Simply Put:

Cutler has better physical abilities
Rivers has more wins
Cutler posted better individual statistics
Rivers has a much better team
Cutler has a better coaching staff
Cutler played with untreated diabetes
Rivers played a few games with bad knees

This debate is terrible. It can never be proven one way or the other.

Anonymous said... Jul 15, 2008, 6:34:00 AM

this is the dumbest thing I have ever read

DaMonster said... Jul 15, 2008, 9:33:00 AM

What makes this exactly makes this dumb? Can you not see his point that the Chargers obviously go as Rivers goes when on the other hand the Broncos' ability to win doesn't seem to be all that effected by Cutler.

From what I read it tells me Rivers is a quarterback who can lead his team to victories and Cutler is just a guy right now. you must be a Broncos fan....

Kyle said... Jul 15, 2008, 10:59:00 AM

No, this really is dumb. Here's your argument, in all its ridiculous glory:

When Rivers plays well, the Chargers win. When he sucks, they lose.

When Cutler plays well, the Broncos lose. When he sucks, they also lose.

Therefore Rivers is the better QB.

THAT MAKES NO SENSE. The true conclusion is that Rivers has a better team around him, which is not even an argument.

All the arguments in the article (stats, physical tools, passer rating) show that Cutler is better.

Anonymous said... Jul 15, 2008, 1:12:00 PM

For all you Madden fans here is the new player ratings

Anonymous said... Jul 15, 2008, 1:21:00 PM

I am a chargers fan and I am having a hard time understanding the true point behind the article other then just saying that Rivers is better then Cutler by using the stats given.

Sean said... Jul 15, 2008, 3:05:00 PM
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said... Jul 15, 2008, 3:06:00 PM

I have no problem saying Rivers is a better QB than Cutler. I have no problem saying that Cutler is a good QB. I have a problem with using a poll on a Chargers fan website as a good indicator on general public perception of the QB's ability. QB play is all about wins. Rivers has more. Don't forget Denver pulled Cutler when they still had a shot at the playoffs. With basically the same team, Plummer took them 13-3.

Crosshare said... Jul 16, 2008, 7:43:00 AM

Look, we can do it too!

Lets face it, this is a neck and neck race to see who is best QB in the division, but for now the stats are nearly identical.

I also don't agree with the argument that Rivers is a better leader. He did actually try to carry the team against the Pats unlike LT. But you have to look at games like the Denver Buffalo match up last season where Cutler willed the team to victory on the last drive.

Anonymous said... Jul 16, 2008, 11:42:00 AM

I went to NC State and watched Rivers play there. I had been a Rivers fan until he showed himself to be such a jerk last year, and the Chargers have always been my second favorite team. I try to watch a lot of Chargers games and I never miss a Bronco game. Cutler had a terrible team last year. He did not get pulled the year before either. Plummer was pulled with 4 or 5 games left in the season. That team was sputtering. The defense had basically broken down because the offense couldn't stay on the field. It was not the same team the Plummer went 13-3 with. Plummer broke that team because teams figured him out and he slipped. 3 and out became a way of life that year. Cutler nearly beat the 49ers to take the Broncs to the playoffs. Anyway, long story short. With a poor team and in a learning year, not to mention have a season of diabetes, Cutler still shined. I watch a lot of both Cutler and Rivers, and Cutler is a much better QB. In a year to year and a half, he will be considered the third best QB in the NFL. Denver really won the lottery with him. Rivers is more of a Plummer like QB (though better), in that his job is to manage the machine, but, like Plummer, rarely could win when the game was placed on his shoulders. The Chargers have so much talent that it hides Rivers' weaknesses. Rivers reminds me of Big Ben, but I don't think that he is taht talented.

Battlehoss said... Jul 19, 2008, 2:09:00 PM

Why do Bronco fans think Jay is the second coming of Elway? Cutler has'nt won since high school, what makes them think he will win now?

Marko said... Sep 10, 2008, 3:12:00 PM

Remember that time Cutler beat the Chargers?

Anonymous said... Sep 13, 2008, 10:45:00 PM

wow. your "logic" is out there.

your argument is that despite Cutler's stats being clearly better, the Chargers fortunes are tied more to Rivers success than the Broncos to Cutler, so Rivers is a better quarterback.

that's like saying that despite the numbers each put up, the 49ers lost more on average with Tai Streets as a WR than they did with Jerry Rice as a WR, therefore, there fortunes were tied more to Tai Streets, so Tai Streets was therefore the better receiver.

I'm not saying that Cutler is the better QB, but if you're going to make an argument that Rivers is better, at least have it not be COMPLETE NONSENSE!

I mean, I know you're biased as a Charger fan, but it's usually Raider fans that say things as completely stupid as your argument.

Anonymous said... Sep 13, 2008, 10:48:00 PM

oh and one more thing. you think because a bunch of charger fans agreed with you, that it validates your claim? do you think if you posted your poll on a Bronco fan site that it wouldn't be overwhelmingly in favor of Cutler?

Come on, be honest, you ARE a Raider fan just pretending to be a Charger fan, huh? Come on, let me see your Halloween costume... er "game attire".

Anonymous said... Dec 21, 2008, 11:17:00 PM

k well Broncos is better this year Jay Cutler is awsome and the best and is going to the pro bowl unlike that fool rivers so that proves Cutler is by far better and also and chargers dont have a better team whos been running the afc west this whole season

Melissa said... Jan 9, 2009, 7:38:00 PM

Jay is like 100 times better period.

Melissa said... Feb 15, 2009, 12:27:00 PM

DUDE anonymous shut up. Jay cutler has couch McDaniels by his side you can't beat that!!

Anonymous said... Feb 17, 2009, 5:47:00 AM

lol couch Mcdaniels

Anonymous said... Jul 24, 2009, 10:33:00 PM

Cutler SUCKS!!!!!!!!!

He is just a cry baby!!
His only good stat is a bunch of yards but the broncos suck and they dont score TDs

Rivers is the best in the league and will probobly be the best ever
He plays w/ heart and doesnt cuss or cry (Unlike Cutler)

Easy debate

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