McCown trying best not to look ahead
December, 28, 2011
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Six stops over nine seasons in the NFL and a stint in the United Football League instilled a perspective in Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown that he will carry into Sunday’s season finale against the Minnesota Vikings.
Instead of fretting about the future and what might amount to an audition Sunday for the 2012 season, McCown wants to embrace yet another opportunity to play. Should he take care of business, the quarterback understands business will eventually take care of him, too.
“In the past at some of my stops, you’re always kind of planning for the next thing,” McCown said, “and you lose sight of what’s in front of you and really enjoying how fun that moment can be. You’ve got an opportunity to go out, compete and play a game. Whether it’s a playoff game, whatever it is, if you’re a competitor you just want to win. You don’t care. So that’s my goal. Generally, especially at this position, if you play well you put your team in a position to win. All the other stuff takes care of itself. So that’s my goal, just to focus on beating Minnesota.”
McCown opened eyes in the team’s loss to the Packers by completing close to 68 percent of his passes for 242 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. With McCown at the controls, the Bears generated a season-high 441 yards and converted on 50 percent of third downs (6 of 12) after going 11 of 50 (22 percent) on third-down conversions in the previous four games.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe Bears generated a season-high 441 yards with Josh McCown at the helm against the Packers.
Having worked with receiver Roy Williams in Detroit, McCown established an almost instant chemistry with him. Williams finished with a season high in catches (six) and yardage (81).
“He just trusts me, and he threw it,” Williams said. “He was throwing it before I even came out of my breaks.”
Trust, McCown said, is one of the fundamental tenets of the club’s offense.
“All offense is trust-related, but especially with this deal and the way [offensive coordinator] Mike [Martz] works the passing game. You have to trust not only what he’s calling and telling you to do, but you have to trust your receivers to be there, and you have to cut some balls loose,” McCown said. "You can work on it, get timing down and how you would like it to happen in practice. But not until you get in a game, cut it loose and you connect do you really start to build confidence. So [with] every rep, you start to feel a little better about it.”
In 10 total drives against the Packers, McCown -- starting his first game since 2007 -- led the Bears to two touchdowns, and two field goals, in addition to two punts, and a pair of interceptions. By comparison, Caleb Hanie led 55 Bears drives, yielding four TDs, four field goals and 29 punts, to go with nine interceptions. The team’s scoring efficiency with Hanie was 29 percent, 7 percent, 12 percent and 7 percent over four games for 40 points.
McCown engineered 40 percent scoring efficiency and 21 points in only one start.
“The performance Josh put in [against the Packers] was impressive,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “That’s why we can get so much done this week [in what might seem like a meaningless game]. We want to see him have an opportunity to come back and play again this coming week. You normally can find a spot for a player who played the way he did.”
Not that McCown is worried about where he stands. After all, a little more than two months ago, McCown was coaching high school football. Although he’d like to stick to continue playing in the NFL, McCown says right now “he’s just having a lot of fun.”
Still, that doesn’t mean he’s overly relaxed.
“Honestly, my prayer is that I don’t get relaxed. There’s a comfort level from just having done it; the unknown is gone,” McCown said. “But there’s an edge that all the anxiety produces that I think is good. I’m hoping I keep that.”