The Jets not landing Jay Cutler is a good thing. I know he is more proven than anybody on the roster right now. I know the tabloids are going to castigate the front office for "letting him get away." I know this opinion is not popular. If this team wants to go all the way, Cutler was not the right choice. I have a list of reasons why this is so.
- Championship level quarterbacks are without exception great leaders. They get their teammates to believe they will find a way to come through, even in the most impossible of circumstances. I think back to that Thursday night in Foxborough last November. The Jets blew an 18 point lead, responded by scoring a touchdown late in the fourth, and then gave up the game-tying score on the last play of regulation. The team had been punched in the stomach, yet the offense calmly drove down the field on the opening series of overtime and registered the winning score. Even after everything had gone wrong, the guys in that huddle had faith because they knew they had Brett Favre, and the future first ballot Hall of Famer could still lift his team after such crushing blows. Ask any of Cutler's former Broncos teammates whether they think Cutler could lead a team in difficult situations.
- Great quarterbacks are at their best when the stakes are the biggest. Cutler has played very poorly in big spots. He became the first quarterback in the history of the league to blow a three game divisional lead with three to play and threw 2 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in those games. He could not even beat a Bills team that had long before called it a season at home in Week 16. In his first year as a starter, he lost at home to a mediocre San Francisco squad in Week 17 with the season riding in the balance.
- People defend his subpar 17-20 career record by pointing out how lousy Denver's defense is and Cutler's 12-1 record when the opponent is held under 23 points. The facts are that in his 24 starts in which his defense gave up 23 points or more, the Broncos scored an average of 19.2 points per game. Even had his defense allowed this magic number of 22, the Broncos would not have fared that well. His production has not been as great across the board as his backers would say. When his defense has struggled, and he has needed to step up, he has often been at his worst.
- To be brutally honest, the Jets have an angry fan base. Jets fans cannot wait to jump on the team when something goes wrong. In addition to the pressure and attention that comes from New York, Cutler would have had to deal with constant boos and calls for his head to WFAN every time he threw a bad interception. This is the guy who was so thin skinned that he made national news by forcing his way out of Denver the first time his name was even rumored in a trade because his feelings were so hurt. Every year, there are whispers about high profile players potentially ending up on the block. Few have ever responded by throwing a fit that makes those of Terrell Owens look tame by comparison.
- The price would have been enormous. The Bears gave up a starting quarterback and still had to give two first round picks. Since the Jets did not have a proven quarterback to offer in return, the price would have been even higher. These picks are valuable. Look at the excellent players the team has added to the roster through the Draft in the past few seasons. A vast majority of fans who voted in the poll last night were opposed to giving up Darrelle Revis, David Harris, and Leon Washington for Cutler. There is a reason. It takes more to win than just a quarterback. Other building blocks are necessary. The Jets would have given away a lot of chances to gain these other building blocks by trading for Cutler. All of this to put the franchise into the hands of the guy with the issues listed about for the next decade.
The Jets still do not have a franchise quarterback at this point, but there is a good chance Cutler was not that guy anyway. Eventually this team will get a chance to add one. Now Gang Green can pull the trigger when that opportunity comes. Cutler's presence would have blocked that chance. Giving up everything for a guy who is not even one of the top ten quarterbacks in the game would not have been the right decision.