Maybe it's best not to mess with Bears' McCown

  • Bears quarterback Josh McCown carries the ball for a first down during Monday night's victory over the Cowboys.

    Bears quarterback Josh McCown carries the ball for a first down during Monday night's victory over the Cowboys. JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Updated 12/10/2013 9:03 PM

Readers have tried to teach me a lesson: Don't mess with Josh McCown.

After a loss at St. Louis a couple of weeks ago I was slightly critical of the Bears' backup quarterback. The primary point was that McCown compiled a lot of yardage but his yards per pass attempt weren't good enough to score enough points to win the game.


The emails came and were nearly unanimous in favor of McCown and critical of me for even daring to criticize McCown.

My favorite was the one with the subject line reading, "Moron." The reader will remain anonymous because he later apologized for the name-calling.

Anyway, this isn't about me even if most things should be. It's about McCown, who has captured the hearts and imagination of Bears fans if not head coach Marc Trestman's endorsement to remain the starting quarterback even when customary starter Jay Cutler recovers from his high ankle sprain.

"Not Mac's fault," Jim Skelly wrote of the loss to the Rams. "He held up his end."

His argument, and that of other e-mailers, was that factors other than the quarterback were responsible for the failure at St. Louis.

"Why you elect to jump on the quarterback meathead argument is beyond me," Paul Maclennan wrote, "when the real issue is defense and penalties. You finally get to that at the end of the article, which I'm surprised I got to with all the earlier gibberish."

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Fans of struggling NFL teams generally support the quarterback that isn't playing. It might be the injured starter forced to sit or the sub wearing a baseball cap on the sideline.

This is different because McCown is not only playing but he's playing so well that Bears fans want him to keep playing.

Normally the backup comes in, might perform respectably, opponents scout him, defenses confuse him and his own home fans turn on him. This situation has evolved into a new normal.

McCown was becoming a favorite off his first four games as a starter, and his fifth against the Cowboys on "Monday Night Football" this week elevated him to near legendary status.

Kevin Goczeski wrote, "McCown's yards per pass attempt puts (him) in the company of Joe Montana, Drew Brees, Y.A. Tittle and Tom Brady, who average(d) 7.5 (per pass attempt) for their career."


My goodness, even McCown would blush at being mentioned with those guys in any context and under any circumstances.

Much of this McCown worship has been inspired by his terrific play and statistics, his 3-2 record as a starter and his performances relative to Cutler's in two other games he entered as a reliever.

Much of it also is inspired by fans growing impatient waiting for Cutler to be all he was supposed to be.

"McCown has played consistently like a Top Ten quarterback this year," Kyle Kastilahn wrote. "Jay has not."

Plus, let's face it: Cutlecolumr the person simply has been difficult for people around here -- this isn't a reference to Mr. Kastilahn -- to embrace, even though his personality has brightened a bit this season.

The McCown vs. Cutler debate around town sure appears to be leaning in the backup's direction.

Whether I have learned the lesson remains to be seen. I already have swayed from pro-McCown to pro-Cutler back currently to pro-McCown, and the situation remains fluid.

The real story, though, is that Marc Trestman insists that he's prepared to mess with Josh McCown and reinstall Jay Cutler when he's healthy.

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