One thing the Bears probably don’t have to worry about with Josh McCown on Monday night in Green Bay is the No. 2 quarterback being a little overwhelmed by the situation. He’s already been through that.
It was in Green Bay, a Christmas Day game against the Packers, and McCown was making his first start after failed performances by Caleb Hanie following a thumb injury to Jay Cutler.
“I just remember walking out of that tunnel in Lambeau and it’s really narrow there, and just kind of being the first of many reflections, about ‘Man, just last week I was jogging out on the field against Charlotte Catholic to coach high school kids,’ or six weeks ago or whenever I got there,” McCown said. “So I remember having that thought. I just remember getting into the game and feeling like, ‘Man, this is a football game. It’s just another game.’ So hopefully, it’ll be the same thing.”
So do the Bears, just with a different final outcome.
One of the biggest reasons behind the improvement in Cutler’s performance in 2013 over his past seasons had been an increased accuracy, with a completion percentage up to 64.9 percent, highest in his career.
One of the clear reasons behind the instant offence created by McCown in Washington was his completing 14 of 20 passes (70 percent), and no interceptions, the key to his passer rating of 119.6 for the game.
When McCown started at Green Bay in 2011 he completed nearly 68 percent of his throws. A point of emphasis with coach Marc Trestman, coordinator Aaron Kromer and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh has been completion percentage rather than big plays, because positive plays sustain drives.
“He's got to utilize the 10 guys around him,” Trestman said. “I think that No. 1 is coming out of the Washington game, playing on the road, again, in the noise, in a highly competitive situation, it wasn't closing out a game. It was a competitive game when he went in and it continued to be a competitive game for over 30 minutes.
“I think coming in, that's a positive and just knowing that the guys around him are there to help and he doesn't have to carry the weight of the football team — nor does any guy.”
The Green Bay defense is allowing opposing quarterbacks an average passer rating of 96.1 (26th), largely because the Packers have intercepted only three passes through seven games, tied for worst in the NFL.
One thing to watch: If McCown is completing passes at a rate of 60 percent or better, the offense should be moving, keeping the Chicago defense off the field, and McCown will be getting the ball out of his hands and into those of his playmakers.