Comparing the careers of Tony Romo and Jay Cutler as they both head to TV
Tony Romo and Jay Cutler both saw game action for the first time in 2006, despite taking dramatically different paths to the field. Cutler, a former first-round pick, started his rookie year in Week 13, taking over from Jake Plummer. Romo went undrafted in 2004, and took over from a struggling Drew Bledsoe that same 2006 season midway through. The 2016 season marked an end for both careers, as each announced they will be handling a microphone going forward instead of a football. Let’s see how their careers stack up from a PFF point of view.
Both Romo and Cutler accrued nine ranked seasons of quarterback play based on playing a representative amount of snaps each year. Of his ranked seasons, Romo finished his career with two seasons graded at high quality on PFF’s scale, and five other seasons at an above-average grade. He had four years ranked in the top 10 for his position, and only ranked outside the top 15 twice is in his career. Romo finished with an average QB rank of 11.1, and average PFF grade of 82.2.
Both Romo and Cutler had their best PFF overall grades during seasons where they missed time due to injury. In 2010, Romo only played in 6 games, while in 2013 Cutler played in 11 games, though his most encouraging season was right at that same high level back in his sophomore campaign of 2008.
Of Cutler’s nine qualifying seasons, he also graded out at a high level twice; that 2008 season (87.4) in Denver, and 87.5 with the Bears in 2013. His only other season of at least above-average grade was in 2015, his final ranked season. Cutler’s average grade for his qualifying years was 78.1, and his average rank was 18. Cutler’s third-best season grade of 80.8 would only be Romo’s eighth-best by comparison.
For their careers, Romo was the far more efficient thrower of a deep ball (20-plus yards in the yards). Cutler attempted more deep passes than Romo while connecting on fewer. Romo also had more touchdowns, fewer interceptions, and more yards, on 82 fewer attempts.
When comparing the two players to the top 15 quarterbacks with the most snaps played in the PFF era (2006-present), Romo is second in touchdown-to-interception ratio on deep passes to only Aaron Rodgers, while Jay Cutler has been more efficient than only Ryan Fitzpatrick.
One area where both players consistently performed above average was passing under pressure. Among those same 15 quarterbacks, Cutler’s 6.88 yards per attempt under pressure was second to only Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning over the past decade, while Romo was right behind at 6.86 YPA. Cutler, however, was once again less efficient in this category, finishing his career with 56 touchdowns and 52 interceptions on 223 more attempts compared with Romo and his 55 touchdowns along with 45 interceptions.
Finally, when comparing the career playoff performances of Romo and Cutler, Romo’s efficiency is noticeable. Romo’s career is unfairly characterized by his relative lack of postseason success in Dallas, but while playing in six playoff games (compared to just two for Cutler), he was more accurate and achieved a higher PFF passer rating. Romo did however throw for a below-league-average 7.12 yards per attempt during his playoff games, as opposed to Cutler’s 8.43 YPA, which is over a full yard higher than his career average of 7.24 YPA.