The Chicago Bears haven’t skipped a beat since Josh McCown took over for Jay Cutler for the second time this season. McCown’s emergence allows Cutler to take his time recovering from a pesky high-ankle sprain suffered in Week 10.
The former backup continues to excel in his starting role and put together arguably his best performance in Week 14 against the Dallas Cowboys. McCown completed 27 of 36 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns—running three times for 16 yards and another score—in the 45-28 rout on Monday Night Football.
Despite his incredible outing, head coach Marc Trestman has wisely avoided controversy and maintained that Cutler will be the starter when healthy. As per Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago, the first-year coach said Monday night: "There's no change in the plan. We'll see where Jay is this week. He'll have to be released by the doctors. When Jay is ready to play, he'll be playing."
McCown will fill in as a more-than-serviceable substitute until that point.
The 34-year-old’s touchdown-to-interception ratio has been pushed to 13-to-1 this season, and he’s only coughed up two fumbles during his time on the field.
It seems that McCown has a natural rapport with his two top receivers—Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery—and is helping the latter develop into a bona fide superstar.
Jeffery had his finest performance of the season against Minnesota, compiling 249 yards and two scores on 12 catches. He regressed slightly on Monday, putting up 84 yards and a score—which happened to come on of the best catches of the season—on five receptions.
Marshall and tight end Martellus Bennett haven’t been suffering with Cutler on the sideline either. The veteran wideout eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the second time in three games against Dallas, while Bennett has kept defenses honest as a third option and has racked up 11 receptions for 119 yards and a score since Week 12.
Which quarterback should start for Chicago, assuming both are healthy?
With a healthy Matt Forte dominating out of the backfield, it seems that this Bears team is finally firing on all cylinders. Jay Cutler will raise the ceiling and bring this group from a fringe playoff squad to championship contender, but his return can wait.
This franchise is in good hands with McCown under center, and he should be able to keep the ship sailing smoothly until the regular starter is 100 percent recovered.