Sunday, April 13, 2014

McCown's Stock Rises Nicely as He Heads into His 12th Season

Perhaps one of the whackiest player personnel stories in professional football in 2014 is that of Josh McCown.  McCown has played for 11 NFL seasons, beginning his career as a third round draft choice of the Arizona Cardinals in 2002.  In Arizona, McCown worked his way into the starting quarterback position in his third year and statistically did fairly well in his fourth year, but not well enough.  The Cardinals had a veteran Kurt Warner who had proven himself not just a winner, but a miracle worker in St. Louis when the Rams won the Super Bowl in January 2000. And when the Cardinals picked up another quarterback with promise, Matt Leinart from USC, in the first round of the 2006 draft, it was time for McCown to move on.

McCown became a backup. He moved to Detroit and played sparingly for one season and then moved to Oakland and Carolina before joining the Bears in 2011. He saw little action in 2011 or 2012.  The Bears cut McCown in August of 2012. 
McCown surprised most everyone when he came back to the Bears in 2013 to help keep the Bears afloat when starter Jay Cutler was injured.  Statistically, it was McCown's best year.  He  completed 149 passes on 224 attempts for 66.5% of his passes for 1,829 yards with 13 touchdowns, one interception and a quarterback rating of 109.  His one interception all season was something that got a lot of attention.  Still, although historically his 13 touchdowns is a good stat for a Chicago quarterback based on the Bears traditional tough defense--don't lose it on offense approach, the Bears have geared  up now with players who can make them an explosive offense.  I believe the Bears are looking for Cutler to throw 20 or more touchdowns rather than a conservative offensive approach.  As the 2013 season closed, few thought of McCown as the Bears starting quarterback.  Yet, he was an excellent leader, supported his players, and showed exceptional confidence. 

In mid-March, Josh McCown inked a contact with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that pays him $10 Mil. over two years.   This is a huge payday for a guy who has been a backup.  It's a also a chance for McCown to have a decent shot at the starting job where he does not have to beat out a franchise guy like Cutler. In Tampa Bay, the Bucks have a young quarterback who can use a veteran's example.   It's a good fit for McCown if he starts or not.  I also suspect that the new Tampa Bay coach, Lovie Smith,  values one thing about McCown that should never be underestimated and that is he is a team guy.  Despite playing very well in Chicago, you never heard McCown stirring up any quarterback controversy here. He will play when he's told to play and he'll do a good job.  If he is a backup again, he won't be complaining. 

And so McCown in his 12th year in the NFL will be making some very good money and he may just  be front page news a few years after many people thought he was gone from the game. It's been a whacky ride for the quarterback.

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