Following the Chicago Bears' dominant victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night, rumblings of a quarterback controversy in Chi-town are getting louder and louder. It marked the third game in a row makeshift starter Josh McCown had over 300 yards passing and at least two touchdowns.
Since taking over for the injured Jay Cutler, McCown has had a Nick Foles-like story. Although he has yet to throw seven touchdowns in one game, McCown has a 13:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and is completing 67 percent of his passes, equating to a quarterback rating of 109.8 on the season.
In fact, there hasn't been a whole lot of differences between McCown's performance this past month and the performances of the NFL's top passers.
|Josh McCown vs. NFL's top QBs (last four weeks)|
|Name||Passing Yards||Passing TDs||Turnovers||Passer Rating|
|Pro Football Reference|
Dallas was his biggest challenge to date and McCown simply shined; he threw for 348 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. At 34 years old, I don't think anyone will call McCown the quarterback of the future in Chicago, but for a team that is still very much alive in the playoff race, he has to be the quarterback of right now.
In looking at the overall careers of these guys, there is not much comparison; Cutler is clearly the better quarterback. However, he's often injured (hasn't played a full season since 2009) and McCown has simply been on fire since taking over.
It's not like these numbers have been a fluke either; McCown has proven himself as the rightful starter of this team. A good handful of NFL pundits have even taken to Twitter with their personal opinions of him.
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 certainly has the hot hand.
Both of these guys are in the last year of their contracts, but given the fact Cutler costs $49 million more, it would be more prudent (and frankly more cost-efficient) if the Bears focused on re-signing McCown and let Cutler walk.
Chicago could opt to franchise Cutler, but Phil Emery, the Bears' general manager, made it seem like they aren't wedded to him and that franchising him may not even be an option (per ChicagoBears.com). It makes sense, though; franchising a quarterback is quite costly (about $16 million for one year) and devoting that much money to an inconsistent, oft-injured player is just not smart when you have other needs to address.
The Bears could save much more money to use elsewhere if they signed McCown to a longer deal and used the extra money to build a better team around him and possibly find a successor in the draft. They could easily take a promising quarterback in the middle rounds of next year's draft and have him sit behind McCown until he retires or said rookie is ready.
Chicago has many options as the 2013 season starts to wind down, but it's beginning to look less and less likely that Cutler will be one of those options.
*All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.*