When Josh McCown was asked following the Washington game what Jay Cutler could do that he, McCown, couldn’t, McCown replied simply, “Have you seen him throw?”
The self-deprecation was amusing, but not necessarily the entire story of McCown passing. With zero preparation since training camp, McCown went into the Washington game cold and completed 70 percent of his passes (14 of 20) to post a 119.6 passer rating – a mark Cutler himself has reached only nine times in eight NFL seasons.
McCown threw no interceptions vs. Washington and teammates were smiling at the perception that the 34-year-old arm wasn’t what it needed to be.
“He has good velocity on [the ball],” said running back Matt Forte. “He’s probably just downplaying his arm a little bit, maybe because he’s an old cat.”
Bears receivers had a similar situation briefly last season when Cutler was down with a concussion and Jason Campbell was installed as the starter for San Francisco (McCown was re-signed the week of that game by the Bears).
Campbell did not throw with the velocity of Cutler but he was earlier than Cutler in making his throws, with the net effect that the ball was on the receivers at nearly the same time, just not traveling as fast.
“[McCown] has great anticipation on the ball,” Forte said. “You can see when guys are running routes, the ball is in the air before they even turn around. That adds to it.”
Put another way, the football – like an old cat – can sneak up on you.