Dim the lights and get your popcorn ready, it’s time for everyone’s favorite reality series, “Battle of the Backups!”
Quarterback Josh McCown will make his third straight start for the Chicago Bears Sunday, while Kellen Clemens will make his fourth start for the St. Louis Rams in place of Sam Bradford, who is lost for the season with a torn ACL. While one backup has had success, the other can not say the same. In total so far, McCown has thrown for 754 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions and has came away with two wins in two starts. Clemens, on the other hand, was winless for three starts until he went 9-of-13 with three touchdowns in a 38-8 upset of the Indianapolis Colts.
Two of his three TDs were to rookie wideout Tavon Austin, but he is their only real threat other than running back Zac Stacy, who has been on a tear recently scoring three times in his last two games, as the Rams are ranked 27th in offensive yards.
Chicago Bears QBs in good hands with Trestman
McCown, however, has a lot more weapons at his disposal. Wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, tight end Martellus Bennet, running back Matt Forte just to name a few. Not to mention the personnel on his side- Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. First, turning Jay Cutler into a smarter quarterback is something Bears fans have wanted for a long time. While he still makes some bad decisions and turns the ball over every now and then, these lapses are few and far between as with Trestman he has been opened up to a whole new world featuring multiple packages and options, giving him the confidence he did not have with former head coach Lovie Smith.
Back when Cutler was sidelined with the groin injury in Week 7, Bears fans wondered about McCown. Those worries
were warranted at first- nobody knew what a former high school coach in 2011 could do on an NFL stage. When you have a coach so meticulously organized like Trestman who has also been nicknamed the “quarterback whisperer”, however, there is no need to worry. Not only has McCown had the benefit of sitting behind Cutler and learning from him, he has a head coach who actually knows what he is doing and who can turn a backup into someone you would think has been a starter for years. The system Trestman has put into place has benefitted both quarterbacks, and McCown has had the most success out of all the backups in the league with a 2-0 record as starter.
Having a system where your backup quarterback is a valuable asset is something the league in general is having to adapt to, with all the injuries that have caused the starting quarterbacks to miss multiple weeks. Some teams have fared better than others, and that is due to the careful preparation in planning for when an injury could occur.
The circumstances may not be the greatest, but it is good to finally see backups who have worked their tails off get the recognition they finally deserve.