Not that the quarterback debate ever really ended, but with Jay Cutler’s return to the Chicago Bears this afternoon against the Cleveland Browns, it flared up again in full force—especially after Cutler’s second interception of the day, which was one more than backup quarterback Josh McCown has thrown this season.
It’s no secret McCown is a major reason why Chicago is first in the NFC North and still very much in the running to make the playoffs this season.
However, he is not the future, or even current, franchise quarterback for the Bears.
Not to take anything away from McCown, but out of his five starts while Cutler was injured, four of the five defenses McCown faced were ranked No. 19 or lower at the time. The one top-10 defense he faced was the Baltimore Ravens. The Bears won in overtime, and it was clearly McCown’s worst performance of his 2013 starts, yielding his lowest completion percentage, fewest passing yards and just one touchdown.
That’s not to say that McCown didn’t step up when Chicago needed him to. But isn’t that the role of a backup quarterback? He did his job. Why are so many fans and media members calling on him to be the next franchise quarterback?
McCown is 34 years old and in his 11th NFL season, playing for his fifth team. Yet he has never held the title of starting quarterback.
This is by far McCown’s best season statistically, but that credit also has to go to newfound offensive prowess thanks to coach Marc Trestman and offensive threats Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett.
It’s easier for players to step up in their roles when they know that the situation is temporary. Would McCown’s five-game success (two games of which were Bears losses) translate to an entire 16-game season?
Love him or hate him, Jay Cutler is the starting quarterback for the Bears, at least for the remainder of this season. Everyone in the Chicago Bears organization from Coach Trestman to the Bears players to Josh McCown himself has made that very clear.
It’s time to accept it and move on.