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Josh McCown's Elite Play Affords Jay Cutler More Recovery Time

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 04: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears (R), who is injured, hugs Josh McCown #12 at the end of the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on November 4, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Bears defeated the Packers 27-20. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Alex KayCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2013

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."

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 04: Head coach Marc Trestman of the Chicago Bears calls a play against the Green Bay Packers as Jay Cutler #6 (L) listens in at Lambeau Field on November 4, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Bears defeated the Packers 27-20. (Phot
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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.

Since taking over following that two-point Week 10 loss to the Detroit Lions, McCown has led Chicago to wins over the defending champion Baltimore Ravens and Cowboys.

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 09: Quarterback Josh McCown #12 of the Chicago Bears runs for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys during a game at Soldier Field on December 9, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Ima
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

He kept the team competitive against the Minnesota Vikings in a disappointing Week 13 loss. The only game the Bears were truly embarrassed in was a Week 12 outing against the St. Louis Rams.

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.

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 09: Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears runs on an end-around against the Dallas Cowboys at Soldier Field on December 9, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Cowboys 45-28. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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.

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.

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