Not to diminish Josh McCown’s terrific game Monday night, but the Cowboys came in with the worst defense in the league.
Worse even than the Bears’.
Sure, McCown showed poise in finding open receivers downfield and even showed some shake in helicoptering into the end zone for his first rushing TD since 2004.
But the Cowboys mounted no pass rush and had no idea how to cover. They looked worse than Jerry Jones’ face. A lot of quarterbacks could perform well under those conditions, even in sub-zero wind chills.
McCown completed 9 of his first 11 passes for 100 yards and a passer rating over 134. He even threw a TD pass in the red zone, an area in which the Bears had been awful. Scorching player on a frigid night.
And getting hotter still.
With 10 seconds left in the second quarter, McCown lobbed a 26-yarder to Alshon Jeffery in the back corner of the end zone. It looked like McCown was trying to throw the ball away, but Jeffery leaped over a cornerback, grabbed the ball with those massive hands that are bigger than most defensive backs, and came down with both feet in bounds, another highlight catch that is becoming commonplace.
If Jeffery doesn’t watch out, he’ll get a cool nickname to go along with a Pro Bowl appearance.
With that, McCown finished the first half completing 18 of 23 passes for 222 yards and a rating of 135.9. He finished the game 27 of 36 for 348 yards, four TD passes and a rating of 141.9. He led the Bears to scores on all eight possessions. Scorching player on a frigid night.
But again, this came against the worst defense in the league and it was showing why. That hardly seems like an argument against signing Jay Cutler.
It took just two sparkling drives to spark Twitter talk of dumping Cutler and keeping McCown while drafting a quarterback high.
Financially, I get that. The Bears will need to fill a lot of roster spots this offseason. That takes money, and Cutler would take up $16-18 million.
But quarterbacks with that kind of talent get that kind of money.
Maybe Marc Trestman can make a quarterback out of anybody. McCown seems to be showing that.
But that also means Trestman could make a Super Bowl quarterback out of someone with Cutler’s skills, which are far greater than McCown’s.
That’s the idea. The Super Bowl. If someone thought the 34-year-old McCown was that guy, then he wouldn’t have been coaching high school football last year. A lot of NFL teams have had the chance to make it work with McCown, but it never happened.
McCown continues to say he’s the backup quarterback. Even he knows it. He also knows that if Cutler is healthy this week, he’ll start against Cleveland.
McCown has played exceptionally well in a backup role. He has done more than the Bears backups we’re used to seeing. Maybe that’s why this talk of turning over the offense to him hits Mach I so quickly.
Be happy the Bears have solved the backup issue. But can we wait until this season is over?
Can we gauge each quarterback’s body of work?
Can we show more smarts that jumping to a conclusion based on a great game against the worst defense in the league?