Over my next few articles, I’m going to be covering the biggest positives (touchdowns) and negatives (turnovers) from the NFC North QBs in 2014. Jay Cutler threw 18 interceptions during the 2014 regular season and lost 6 fumbles for a league-leading 24 turnovers. First, I’m going to cover some charting data I came up with while watching his passing. Then, on page 2 and beyond, there are my thoughts of the individual plays themselves. Here are the articles in the series that I have completed so far:
One of the first things I charted for each interception was blame. I assigned three categories, which should be self-explanatory:
|Partially QB’s fault||5|
|Not QB’s fault||3|
Cutler often gets lambasted for his carelessness, but I found that he wasn’t really fully at fault for quite a number of the interceptions he threw. A number of the interceptions appeared to be miscommunications between QB and receiver, where either the pass catcher ran the wrong route or Cutler threw to the wrong place based on the defense. Without knowing the play call, it’s difficult to tell who is at fault, but I tried to determine it in the breakdowns of the individual plays later in the article. Throwing in a couple of other types of plays, Cutler was only fully at fault for just over half of his interceptions on the year. Obviously, I’m also not counting potential interceptions that were dropped, so Cutler’s true number of interceptions he was at fault for is likely to be higher, but it’s certainly notable that he had so many interceptions he can’t be fully faulted for.
What caused the interceptions?
|Tipped By Defense||5|
I only counted a pass as dropped when it hit both of the receiver’s hands.
Cutler’s main problem appeared to be with poor throws. He simply wasn’t accurate enough with his passing. He did have to face pressure fairly often, and there were a number of tips at the line of scrimmage (usually the fault of the offensive lineman) that ended up affecting his passes and turning them into interceptions.
What about distance covered? Cutler’s average depth of target on these throws was 18.8 yards. Where on the field was he throwing the ball? Here’s a breakdown of each throw:
|Fewer than 6 Yards||2|
|Between 6 and 15 yards||6|
|More than 15 yards||10|
|Deep Left||Deep Middle||Deep Right|
|Intermediate Left||Intermediate Middle||Intermediate Right|
|Short Left||Short Middle||Short Right|
It quickly becomes clear that Cutler tends to have the most interception trouble with deep passes, and also passes to the right side of the field. He also had slightly more success throwing TDs to the left than the right, so maybe he’s worse at throwing to his right side, which is odd because you’d think that as a right-handed QB he’d have an easier time throwing to that side, but I digress.
What about the time left on the clock? First, a breakdown of potential game situations, followed by a breakdown by quarter:
Cutler didn’t have any interceptions at all in crunch time, but he wasn’t particularly successful at leading the Bears on comebacks. He did, however, throw three picks late in big losses, and therefore had three garbage time interceptions. He also had three desperation throws at the end of halves. There is on play that overlaps to both the desperation and garbage time categories.
In terms of the breakdown by quarters, it seems to be a pretty even spread to me. It’s notable that Cutler threw 3 interceptions with fewer than 20 seconds left in the 2nd Quarter, which is a time where you want to score to gain some momentum going into halftime, so that’s not ideal.
Now let’s take a look at the interceptions he threw by down:
Cutler struggled with interceptions on 1st and 3rd down.
What about the kinds of routes he was throwing to?
Cutler can sometimes struggle with vertical routes. As I mentioned before, Cutler had some miscommunications with his receivers, and on all of those plays the receiver ran a vertical route, so that may be inflating the numbers. Still, having half of your interceptions on deep throws is far from idea. Other than that he seemed to struggle with out routes, which are probably the most difficult throws to make in football (deep outs or corner routes, really).
Finally, let’s take a look at who Cutler was targeting on his interceptions:
In my article on his TDs, I mentioned that Cutler didn’t find much variety in his TD targets. He actually threw interceptions to a higher number of receivers than the number of guys he threw TDs to, despite throwing 10 fewer picks. That’s not good. Martellus Bennett was thrown at as many times for INTs as he was TDs. If there’s one good thing, it’s that Jeffery caught 9 TDs with just 2 interceptions thrown his way. He’ll need to step up big next year with the departure of Marshall, and his play in 2014 is a good sign.