Josh McCown didn’t think this was the time or situation to consider whether he is playing the best football of his NFL career at this precise point.
“Right now I’m just trying to play efficient football and just try to do what we’re asked to do, do my job, what the play’s called for me to do and execute that,” McCown said on Thursday.
He’s obviously been doing a little more than simply efficient. McCown has directed the offense on 17 possessions besides a final brief one at the end of the Washington one. The Bears have netted points on 10 of them, including seven touchdowns, and he has the eighth-highest passer rating (103.2) among current starting quarterbacks.
McCown makes his 35th NFL start on Sunday. More immediately important, apart from his one-series rescue effort last Sunday against the Detroit Lions, it is his third major stint as the Bears’ quarterback and all of them – Washington, Green Bay, Baltimore – will have been against 3-4 defenses, a common source of consternation for Bears offenses of late.
All three and Detroit’s 4-3 have had differences but because of McCown’s skill set, emotional makeup and system characteristics, “we continued with the same system,” said offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. “We haven’t changed. We obviously, like we said last time Josh played against Green Bay, that we’re going to continue to call the plays that are going to work against the coverages and the things we’re seeing. But in no way does he inhibit the offense. And he actually has done a nice job of just running the offense and taking what they’re giving us.”
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The Ravens do not give quarterbacks much. They rank No. 8 in scoring defense and 15th in yardage allowed, better than previous McCown opponents Washington (27th), Green Bay (18th) and Detroit (24th).
Baltimore has kept its scheme intact from the Ray Lewis/Ed Reed era and improved statistically. The Ravens rank fourth in sack percentage, with 32 sacks, tied for third in the NFL and better than the Packers (eighth) who managed just one sack of McCown.
“They’re a good defense, a top-10 defense, and you can see the, I call it ‘hereditary,’ but it’s like you can see the marks of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis and the pros that they’ve had there before on this defense,” McCown said. “You can see that, like the way that they play, the knowledge of their assignment, the speed and intensity of the way they play so it’s a good defense, we’ll have our hands full.”
What to watch for: McCown has thrown four touchdown passes vs. zero interceptions. As important, he is completing 60 percent of his passes even with the 22-for-41 night in Green Bay, leading to sustaining drives. The offense has converted 10 of 20 third and fourth downs behind McCown, a key to keeping the Bears’ defense off the field and the offense on it.