But who would we choose if we had to pick a backup?
Both guys are blessed with powerful arms but get sloppy with mechanics. My guess is a majority of Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions fans would choose “their guy” but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are also fans who would take the other out of frustration with their own.
Occasional head-scratching moments aside, an argument can be made for either guy as the division’s second-best quarterback. With the help of Pro Football Focus, let’s take a look at Matthew Stafford’s last three seasons with his overall PFF rating. The last column divides the number of snaps by the overall rating to give an indication of how much playing time was required for each point in the rating column – we’ll get to this later.
And now the same table for Jay Cutler over the last three seasons.
Stafford has finished ahead of Cutler in PFF’s rankings each of the last three years. But since PFF’s rating system is cumulative, the overall rating has to be viewed in the context of playing time. Stafford had the reputation as fragile after missing much of his first couple seasons in the NFL but while he has played all 16 games in each of the three past seasons, Cutler hasn’t done that since 2009.
This is where the “snaps/+1″ comes in to play and makes Cutler’s 2013 season look much better than many might otherwise think. In fact, Cutler’s 2013 season helps boost his PFF rating rate ahead of Stafford’s for the last three years.
The problem in using this to declare Cutler the pick over Stafford is that 2013 is an outlier on the good side while 2011 is an outlier on the bad side. Stafford, on the other hand, has been pretty consistent in how PFF has rated him over the last three years.
What’s more, even if Cutler has truly been rejuvenated under Marc Trestman, it does no good if he isn’t on the field. With Cutler on the wrong side of 3o, his inability to play a 16-game schedule is troubling.
With Stafford five years younger and having produced more consistent results than Cutler, he gets my nod as the NFC North’s second-best quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers.