Bears head coach Marc Trestman is doing everything possible to avoid giving the slightest impression of a quarterback controversy.
Consider the way the conversation went early Sunday evening after the Bears' 23-20 overtime victory over Baltimore.
Trestman was asked about Josh McCown's ability to avoid throwing a single interception this season.
After a brief mention of McCown, Trestman quickly skipped to the offensive line and the offense as a whole for taking care of the ball. At least give him credit for not adding that Jay Cutler had a great day on the sideline.
Uh, coach, would you like to elaborate a bit on McCown's performance?
Same thing: Trestman acknowledged that McCown was in the stadium and that he took care of the ball, but that was about it.
Later Trestman was asked what he could say about the quarterback duel between McCown and Joe Flacco of the Ravens.
Good question. Relevant question. A question that was another opportunity to praise the Bears' winning pitcher on this day.
McCown is paid around $800,000 this year to be Cutler's backup, while Flacco is paid around $20 million annually after winning last season's Super Bowl.
All McCown did against the Ravens was post a 92.9 quarterback rating on the strength of zero interceptions. Flacco countered with a 53.4 quarterback rating on the weakness of 2 interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
So it sure seems that McCown outplayed Flacco, but Trestman said, "I can't comment on that directly. I'm just happy the way our football team rallied around Josh. (The way) Josh handled the huddle, and took care of the football, and did his job."
Some flattery, huh? Seriously, it was easy to wonder whether Lovie Smith, the Bears' previous head coach, was about to pop out from behind a curtain and declare in his patented manner, "Jay is Marc's quarterback."
For some reason, Trestman is married to Cutler. At least for this season he is. So when Cutler recovers from an ankle injury that occurred soon after he allegedly was recovered from his groin injury …
Well, Cutler will resume being the Bears' starting quarterback and McCown will resume being his backup. Trestman wants no debate over that.
Never mind that a case could be made that the offense operates more efficiently with McCown than with Cutler. Or that Ron Jaworski, who studies quarterbacks from goal line to goal line, has said he wouldn't re-sign Cutler after this season because of inconsistent mechanics. Or that Jon Gruden, who also knows something about quarterbacks, indicated on the radio last week that he would stay with the hot hand.
Right now that's McCown, even under absurd conditions. Soldier Field's evil wind and diabolical rainstorm called for a strong arm, and McCown has a peashooter compared to Cutler's cannon.
Even McCown had to chuckle, "You look across the field and see Joe Flacco and look on the sideline and Jay is over there and I'm like, 'Can I borrow somebody's arm?'"
McCown still used his own to make the throws that had to be made. But there isn't any controversy here. McCown is a backup quarterback. If Cutler is healthy, he will start next week at St. Louis.
That's Trestman's story, and he's sticking to it. He should be grateful that it's also McCown's story, and he's sticking to it.
"Jay is our starting quarterback," McCown said when asked whether he's starting to feel like a No. 1. "The way I serve this team is to play when the starter is not healthy."
Marc Trestman couldn't have said it better, or maybe he did by declining an invitation to rave about Josh McCown's play against the Ravens.
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