We sat here a year ago with concern about Josh McCown not being the experienced equal of Jason Campbell, as the first names that start with "J" to backup Jay goes back a little farther.
61 pass attempts in six game appearances the previous five seasons, including a stretch of nearly two entire seasons when he wasn't even in the NFL.
That was McCown heading into last season. And then Josh shocked-and-awed us when he trotted onto the field in week 7 in Washington as Jay Cutler was being gingerly helped off of it. Jordan Palmer got a call a day later, but wasn't needed as McCown worked his magic and Cutler eventually returned.
Just as Campbell found a home and an opportunity in Cleveland, McCown did the same with Tampa Bay, and we're left to wonder if Matt Cavanaugh and Marc Trestman can duplicate that trick with either Palmer or Jimmy Clausen. Neither has thrown a pass in an NFL game since 2010. That's a year after Cutler last played an entire season.
"Off the top of my head, I don’t know how many teams around the league have quality veteran depth at the backup position," said Cavanaugh. "So I don’t think we’re behind the eight-ball there. I just know we have some young guys we think have a lot of talent, and they’re all competing to try and be that guy that, if something happens to Jay, he can come in and we don’t miss a beat. I don’t know that everybody was convincved Josh McCown was that guy last year until it happened. I don’t have any doubt that whoever it is is gonna be ready to play if they have to play."
Back in 1984 through 1986, Cavanaugh was backing up a guy named Joe Montana in San Francisco before the future Hall of Famer really started getting dinged-up, pre-Steve Young. The Bears quarterbacks coach started four games over those three years, winning three. He had a pretty good group around him, too.
Palmer was limited during the recent OTA's with soreness in the pectoral muscle and shoulder in his throwing arm before taking his share of snaps in minicamp. Clausen was completing a two-week crash course with the playbook, and was impressive enough to be kept over journeyman Jerrod Johnson (wow! TWO "J's"!), who'd been with the club since late last season, and was more well-versed in the offense. But Clausen has 10 NFL starts to none for Palmer, 299 pass attempts in the league to 15 for Palmer.
"Its always tough when you get in a new system late and you try to learn the verbage. Because he’s got some years in the league I don’t think there’s any schemes were running that he's not familiar with, but it's able to communicate it. Hear it, call it quickly, get in the huddle and say it. He’s a smart guy and he’s caught up real fast."
Depending on the numbers games and injuries at other positions heading into the regular season, it's conceivable the Bears could keep both to back up Cutler, unless rookie David Fales shows so much that he doesn't start on the practice squad.
Other NFC backup quarterbacks, heading into training camp next month:
ARIZONA: Drew Stanton (to Carson Palmer)
ATLANTA: T.J. Yates (Matt Ryan)
CAROLINA: Derek Anderson (Cam Newton)
DALLAS: Brandon Weeden (Tony Romo)
DETROIT: Dan Orlovsky (Matthew Stafford)
GREEN BAY: Matt Flynn (Aaron Rodgers)
MINNESOTA: Teddy Bridgewater (Matt Cassel)
NEW ORLEANS: Luke McCown (Drew Brees)
N.Y. GIANTS: Ryan Nassib (Eli Manning)
PHILADELPHIA: Mark Sanchez (Nick Foles)
SAN FRANCISCO: Blaine Gabbert (Colin Kaepernick)
SEATTLE: Terrelle Pryor (Russell Wilson)
ST. LOUIS: Garrett Gilbert/Austin Davis (Sam Bradford)
TAMPA BAY: Mike Glennon (Josh McCown)
WASHINGTON: Kirk Cousins (Robert Griffin III)