The Case for Josh McCown

It was the end of the 2010 season, and Josh McCown had just thrown for the best TD/INT of his career: 10/8. Those numbers show the true nature of what happens when a backup starts eight games during the season: it’s not pretty.

But that season? He was a member of the Hartford Colonials, a UFL team that was the worst in the league during its’ existence from 2009-2012. If McCown can barely survive as a quarterback in a league full of NFL “rejects”, then there’s almost no hope for him in the top American football league.

But when Jay Cutler went down, the former Colonial stepped up and filled in admirably. So far, in 5 starts this season, McCown has led the Bears to a 3-2 record and has the highest QBR in the NFL over that span. But there’s a problem; Cutler’s back.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Cutler is a fine NFL starter; probably top 15 at his position when healthy. But that’s the thing, he’s not 100% right now and with the way McCown is spinning the pigskin, I’d leave the keys in Josh’s car. He has the offense firing on all cylinders, as evidenced by the 45-28 beat-down laid on the Cowboys on Monday night, and shows no signs of letting up. Save for the final kneel-down in that game, the Bears scored on every single possession that they had the ball, including 5 total scores from McCown. If you compare the games Cutler has played in this season (1,908 yards, 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions) with the games McCown (1,809 yards, 13 touchdowns and one interception) has played in, it’s clear McCown has the edge and should continue to start at quarterback for this football team. Yet coach Marc Trestman came out today and announced that Cutler will start this week.

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Now, there are other factors in play here. Most notably, Jay Cutler is in a contract year and the Bears haven’t decided whether or not to give him an extension. It’s quite possible that GM Phil Emery wants to throw Cutler back into the pressure of a playoff race and see how he handles the situation. If he passes with flying colors, then it’s a win-win: The Bears make the postseason and Cutler gets his new contract. If he fails, then it clears up a foggy situation: Jay is not the future quarterback for Chicago.

I understand that line of reasoning, but I don’t agree with it. Why not keep McCown in there? He gives you the best chance to make the playoffs and once you get into the dance, all bets are off. The Bears could easily make a deep postseason run if their hot quarterback continues his current level of performance. And besides, the Bears have had 4+ seasons with Cutler. If the team doesn’t know what to do with him now, then how much of a difference can 3 more games really make?

By no means is Josh McCown the quarterback of the future, he’s more of a flash in the pan than anything else. But that flash is still burning and that pan is still sizzling. If the goal of an NFL team is to win the most games as possible, then put the best players in. Right now, it’s not even close, McCown is the best quarterback on Chicago’s roster.