Many are saying that it was inexcusable for Josh McDaniels to let the 25-year-old Pro Bowl Quarterback get away. Jay Cutler is clearly a very talented young player with great potential.
To understand what the cost of losing Jay Cutler was to the Broncos, you need to look at two things. What did the quarterback mean to the Broncos? Also, what did they get in return?
Is Jay Cutler a good quarterback or a great quarterback?
In the 2008 season, Cutler had 4,526 yards passing. That was second best in the NFL. That statistic however is largely a product of volume. He had 616 pass attempts—second most in the NFL.
If you look at his quarterback rating, he was 16th best in the NFL. That's average. His completion percentage ranked him 14th best in the NFL. That's average. He was below average in his touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Cutler's strongest stat is his 7.3 yards per pass attempt average. This is good, but still only ranks him 10th best in the NFL.
The biggest loss the Broncos face in Cutler leaving is potential. Jay Cutler has all the potential in the world. Good arm. Good pocket presence. Good mobility. If he keeps his head together, he should be good for the Chicago Bears.
Right now though. The Broncos lost a good quarterback, not a great Quarterback.
If you compare the two starting quarterbacks in the trade, Cutler and Orton, Cutler is the better player. How much better though?
If you put Kyle Orton into the 2008 Denver Broncos offence, using his Chicago stats (as poor as they where), he would have thrown for 36.72 less yards per game. Over the course of a season, he would have thrown 1.16 less touchdowns and 2.11 less interceptions than Cutler.
The touchdowns and interceptions are close enough that I would be willing to call it even. That means the Denver Broncos need to figure out how to get those 36.72 lost yards back.
In Chicago, Kyle Orton, while aided by a good running game, did not have very good pass protection. His receiving corps was also not what most would call strong.
Now, Orton is coming to a team that has a great pass blocking offensive line. In the 2008 season, Denver only gave up 11 sacks. Despite having 616 pass attempts, that was the best in the NFL.
Orton also will be able to take advantage of Pro Bowl WR Brandon Marshall as well as Eddie Royal. Royal is proving to be one of the best young WRs in the game.
Orton also has a great pass catching TE in Tony Sheffler, a great slot receiver in Brandon Stokely, and running back Peyton Hillis, who also turned out to be a very good receiver last season.
If all this isn't enough to make any quarterback smile, the Denver Broncos also added Knowshon Moreno—the best running back in the 2009 draft. And guess what? He is a great receiver out of the backfield. In addition to his receiving, Knowshon should be a nice pick-up for the Broncos running game.
If you don't think all of this is enough to help Kyle Orton and the Denver Broncos get those 36.72 yards per game back...
There are still the two first round draft picks that Chicago sent to Denver. Which of course, turned into a first rounder and an early second rounder this year—Completing the trade for the Denver Broncos.