A 13:1 touchdown to interception ratio. Among active quarterbacks, he leads the league in total quarterback rating (QBR) on the season. Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys, he became the first Bear in 43 years to have four passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. Who would have ever thought 34-year-old journeyman Josh McCown would be attached to these accolades?
Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman knew this answer before any of us did. With the Oakland Raiders back in 2001, he earned his “quarterback whisperer” moniker when he turned Rich Gannon into the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in just two years time. McCown’s story is different since he has only been in a relief position and will take his spot on the bench with the news Thursday that Cutler will start against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday.
The backup-turned-starter had seven straight games with a passer rating of more than 90 percent along with a 66.8 percent completion rate, all after jumping into Trestman’s system headfirst after Cutler initially went down in Week 7. During that time, McCown kept the Bears afloat in the playoff race. Granted, he did not play against the best defenses, but he put up phenomenal numbers during his stint as starting quarterback. Sunday’s game and the final stretch of the regular season will prove to be an important litmus test for Cutler.
If he plays well and wins, his future with the team is bright. If he does the opposite, however, fans will be up in arms and his future will be very cloudy in Chicago. McCown had the opportunity to the learn the system on the sideline, so it is very possible Cutler did the same and learned how to control the ball better and be more efficient as a quarterback.
If a situation pans out where Cutler does not end up in Chicago after this year, Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer have a system in place to put another quarterback under center and succeed. Not only does Trestman have the right system, but he has some of the best offensive weapons this team has seen in a while. The most surprising weapon out of all of those guys is at the tight end position.
The Bears have not had a tight end who can do what it takes to be a successful tight end — catch and block. Martellus Bennett has been able to do those things his entire career, and he has continued to flourish in Chicago. Having the best wide receiver tandem in the league does not hurt, either.
Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall have made history, being the first two teammates to each gain 1,000 yards in a season since 1995. Having as dynamic a duo as these two is big for any quarterback, and will almost ensure success. The offensive line has vastly improved as well especially due to the new additions, and Forte continues to be a versatile threat in the backfield.
My point is, whether the Bears go for a new quarterback of the future through the draft or stick with Cutler, the system currently in place is a quarterback-friendly one that will take the Bears very far. To be successful in this league, you need two things — the personnel to get you where you want to go, and a great system.
The Bears have both of those things, so Bears fans can relax — if they do not happen to make the playoffs this year, the future of this team is bright no matter who the quarterback will be.
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