By Charlie Roumeliotis
When Jay Cutler exited Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins with a groin injury, Bears backup quarterback Josh McCown nearly pulled off an impressive Chicago comeback.
But after finding out the Bears starting quarterback will miss a minimum of four weeks, McCown, who's best friends with Cutler outside of football, says he's just as bummed as Cutler.
"I'm heartbroken for Jay," McCown said on the Waddle and Silvy Show Monday. "We're obviously really close and any time you see a close friend go down like that it breaks your heart. These last few years, it seems like he gets rolling and then something like this happens. He'll get through it, though. He's a very mentally tough person."
The Bears had a team meeting Monday morning, and although many teammates probably share McCowns feelings, the locker room is still confident in what they can do.
"I'll leave what was said in the meeting there, but just know this: There's a lot of resolve in our locker room," McCown said. "It's a next-man up league. There's a litany of injuries to everybody. The Texans are feeling it, the Colts are feeling it, the Rams are feeling it. That's this league. And guys have to be able to get up and produce. We understand where we're at."
[MORE: With Cutler'out, Bears prepared to go with McCown]
Backup quarterbacks are often thrown into the fire, without any time to warm up or get their feet wet. But when Cutler went down, McCown was ready to go, and it showed.
"I've been around long enough, so it's probably a little bit easier for me as opposed to maybe a younger backup who's just processing how to prepare in the NFL and how to prepare with no reps," he said. "I've been a backup for a number of years now, so I'm having the opportunity figure out what's best for me and how I prepare with no reps. That's an ongoing process that I continually chase."
Even though McCown and Cutler possess different skill sets, the gameplan didn't change Sunday and it won't change going forward.
The priority remains the same.
"Our goal as quarterbacks of the Chicago Bears is to play highly efficient football," McCown said. "That's what Marc [Trestman] wants out of his quarterback. Both of us can move a little bit, but obviously [Cutler's] arm strength is unparalleled. Or at least by me it is.
It's going to look different," McCown added. "But at the end of the day, the idea is to be efficient, to move the team and get us in the end zone. It may not be the same way Jay does it, but hopefully the outcome is the same."
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McCown found the end zone twice against Washington, throwing for a pair of passing touchdowns.
But one place McCown doesn't want to find himself in is the training room, which is why he began to slide after trying to hurdle a defender on his first scramble.
"I kind of just got caught where I couldn't slide and I jumped over the guy, so I didn't really sustain any hit. But I got over [by the sidelines] and [saw quarterback coach Matt] Cavanaugh and [Earl Bennett, the Bears' emergency quarterback] going over the call sheet, and I was like, 'Oh man, that's not good,'" McCown joked.
"In my mind I said, 'I have to slide, I have to slide,' so that was a helpful reminder," he added. "And I looked at my driver's license and reminded myself that I was 34, so I should probably slide as well. But yeah, it's tough playing a game that way when you go in [with no backup]. You have to protect yourself and stay healthy."
McCown is expected to be the start when the Bears take on the Packers at Lambeau Field in two weeks. It'll be McCown's second career game in Green Bay since 2011, when he finished the season as the starter after Cutler suffered a thumb injury mid-season.
[MORE: Jay Cutler injury moves McCown in for key stretch on Bears schedule]
McCown knows the game will be memorable, but he also understands that it's more than just another game.
"To be looking up and have an opportunity to play at Lambeau again, under the circumstance, I hate that it's come up like this, but it's certainly special," he said. "It's always a special place to play and an opportunity to be a part of such a historic rivalry. At the end of the day, for me, this is a division game and it has huge implications. We've got to rally the troops and get ourselves ready to go out and play good football and beat the Packers."
If Chicago does earn a victory against Green Bay, they'll be tied for the NFC North division lead.
And McCown says fighting for that spot is all he wants to sustain while Cutler is out.
"My hope is that when I hand it back to [Cutler], we're still right in the thick of things and he can lead us into the playoffs," McCown said.