Josh McCown has never played this well this long at any point in his NFL career. All the Bears are asking now is that he step it up a notch.
And for a quarterback who has strung together five straight 90-plus passer ratings — his best previous run was three as the Arizona Cardinals starter in 2004 — that is do-able.
With the defense to the point of coaches feeling the need to take fourth-down chances, McCown and members of the offense won’t be putting forth any more effort. To suggest that they will now try extra-hard is an insult saying that they haven’t been giving max effort so far.
The Bears do not need McCown to suddenly start producing super plays. They need him to simply refine even further a level of precision that he has clearly established as within his capabilities: one interception in 148 attempts, one sack taken every 25.7 dropbacks (excluding scrambles). For perspective: Peyton Manning takes a sack every 21.3 dropbacks, Drew Brees one every 14.
“I think Josh has just got to continue at the level he’s playing at,” coach Marc Trestman said. “He’s got to be efficient, take care of the football and let the guys around him do what they need to to help move our football team….
“He knows there’s things he can do to get better; we’ve talked about those things, and trusting his reads and progressions and just letting the guys around him do the work. We’re always going to try to do better on specific things, specific passing principles, specific footwork. That’s what he can continue to work at, the little things and details that go into the makeup and success of a play.”
McCown has made it a personal mission to avoid sacks, in part to help his offensive line with one of its measurement standards. But he has yet to have a sack-free game. And with an offense needing more than ever to avoid negative plays, sacks are big ones. The Bears were 2-0 in games when Jay Cutler was not sacked.
What to look for: The Bears’ offensive line will have a daunting task of blocking Minnesota ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison in a notoriously loud venue. But the Minnesota Vikings are down and dangerously close to playing coach Leslie Frazier out of a job, with just one win in their last seven games.
What that means is a fan base that can be taken out of the game by sustained drives that never give Adrian Peterson a chance to ignite the offense and the Metrodome.
If McCown returns to his mistake-free pre-Rams form, the Vikings are unlikely to be able to stay with the Bears. “There’s still times where you find yourself making a throw or doing something, and you’re like, ‘Man, I shouldn’t do that,’ but you do,” McCown said. “It’s finding ways to improve in those areas so those things don’t happen.“