Josh McCown: Next man up for the Chicago Bears

Josh McCown: Next man up for the Chicago Bears

Audible groans were let out by Bears fans last Sunday afternoon as Jay Cutler writhed in pain after being sacked early in the second quarter against the Redskins. The Bears announced the next day that Cutler had a torn groin muscle and would be out at least four weeks, leaving backup Josh McCown to fill the void.

McCown filled in well Sunday afternoon, finishing the game going 14 of 20 for 204 yards and a touchdown, but the team ultimately fell short in Washington, losing 45-41.

So who exactly is Josh McCown?

His time in Chicago began back in 2011 when, after failing to claim Kyle Orton off of waivers, the team signed him to backup Caleb Hanie following a broken thumb injury to Cutler.

Hanie’s ineptitude led to the Bears losing four straight games with him as a starter, and the team was unable to build off their prior 7-3 record with Cutler. McCown started the final two games, going 1-1 and throwing for 414 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.

He spent the final seven weeks of the 2012 season with the team and was re-signed this past offseason to a one-year deal.

Prior to his time in Chicago, McCown bounced around the league, playing for four NFL teams (Arizona, Oakland, Detroit and Carolina) as well as playing one season for the Hartford Colonials of the now defunct UFL.

Drafted in the third-round of the 2002 draft by the Arizona Cardinals, McCown was initially viewed a late-round pick, but a strong showing at the Combine and the Senior Bowl that year helped push him into the third round.

Scouts raved about his speed (4.59 40-yard dash) but noted he did not have the strongest arm and needed to work on his technique but had the ability to play in the league.

McCown started 22 games during his four-year tenure in Arizona, throwing for 5,431 yards, 25 touchdowns and 29 interceptions but was never really viewed as a long-term answer. He spent 2006 with the Lions, never appearing in a game and then started nine games for the Oakland Raiders in 2007, throwing for 1,151 yards, 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

After signing a two-year deal with the Miami Dolphins in 2008, they traded him to the Carolina Panthers before the start of the season, and he appeared in just three games during the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

He spent 2010 with the Hartford Colonials of the UFL, and after spending training camp with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011, he was released and began coaching high school football in Waxhaw, N.C until the Bears signed him that November.

To say that McCown has been a journeyman throughout his career would be an understatement. At this point, he is what he is and his experience lends well to what this team is trying to accomplish in Cutler’s absence.

Cutler has never been shy about the impact that McCown has on him and his teammates, saying last December, “There are so many different aspects to what he brings to this team, especially for me. He’s been in a lot of different situations, and he’s been in the league a long time. He’s had success, he’s had down years, and he’s just a positive guy.”

McCown’s positivity on the sidelines has been evident throughout much of the season, often the first one to greet Cutler on the sidelines after a touchdown pass, and his involvement as a mentor for Cutler has been evident as he and head coach Marc Trestman are seemingly attached at the hip while the offense is on the field.

After the game against the Redskins, he pointed out that he is there to not only help Cutler but to help the team the best he can, saying: “I am a competitor. But I also know that is part of the reason I am here. I do want to help Jay get the most out of his life and his playing ability. That is the way I help our team, until today, I help Jay be his best.”

The bye week will help McCown prepare even more for the Green Bay Packers but it will not be an easy task heading into Lambeau Field on Monday Night Football on November 4th.

“It’s a grind-it-out league, and you need some optimism and some positivity, and he brings that,” Cutler said of McCown last December.

Now, after months of splitting time as mentor and backup quarterback, McCown gets to show that he is more than just an optimistic and positive guy, and that he can lead this team to victories in Cutler’s absence.

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