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Bears confident Josh McCown can do the job

Updated: November 23, 2013 6:24AM



Quarterback Jay Cutler strode through the hallways of Halas Hall just fine Monday. There were no signs of the pronounced limp he had when he came off the field with a groin injury Sunday against Washington Redskins.

It was an indicator of the Bears’ confidence that Cutler will be able to return after missing at least four weeks with torn muscle in his left groin.

In the meantime, this is 34-year-old backup Josh McCown’s show. His efficient, if not stellar, performance against the Redskins has given coach Marc Trestman and his teammates confidence the offense can remain productive without Cutler.

‘‘That’s part of our optimism here,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘We know we can come back next week. We know that we can have real good practices. Our football team feels that it can rally around Josh, and he’s going to put us in a posi-
tion to win games. That was clear [Sunday]. And that gives us a lot to build on
going into next week.’’

McCown had one of the best games of his career in just more than two quarters of playing time Sunday. He completed 70 percent of his passes (14-for-20) for 204 yards and a touchdown for a 119.6 passer rating and even scrambled for 33 yards. It was his best effort since a 125.2 passer rating for the Oakland Raiders against the Denver Broncos on Dec. 2, 2007.

Left tackle Jermon Bushrod said the Bears have ‘‘all the confidence in the world’’ in McCown.

‘‘He came in, and he did his thing,’’ Bushrod said.
‘‘He spread the ball around, he got us in good positions, and we had a chance to win the game.’’

McCown would be the first to tell you he isn’t Cutler. He doesn’t have the same arm strength — ‘‘Every guy in America wishes he could throw the ball like Jay Cutler,’’ he said — or Cutler’s mobility and improvisational skills.

But McCown does have the same offensive scheme, the same coach in Trestman, the same targets in Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett and the same improved offensive line. McCown — or any backup under Cutler with the Bears — didn’t have the same luxuries before this season.

Trestman might not be able to fix the Bears’ defensive woes, but he might be able to get McCown to succeed in his offense. McCown’s effort against the Redskins is an example of his potential in Trestman’s offense.

Trestman reiterated his playbook and calls won’t change, saying, ‘‘I don’t see any difference at all [with McCown].’’

‘‘The structure is in place, and the emphasis has been put on individuals to do their job and do their part,’’ McCown said. ‘‘If we continue to get that — and we felt like we got that [Sunday] — it
allows the quarterback to step in there, whether it’s Jay or myself, to function and play.’’

McCown said he’s in a better spot to take over the Bears’ offense than he was in 2011, when he was signed in November after Cutler broke his right thumb and started two games after Caleb Hanie floundered.

‘‘To have come in here with this system, being here from day one with Marc, learning this from the ground up, it’s been beneficial,’’ said McCown, who will be backed up by Jordan Palmer. ‘‘Hopefully, it continues to pay dividends on the field. We’ve just got to look at where we are as an
offense and see what we can do to continue to improve.

‘‘Hopefully, I can keep us going and keep us in a good position, so that when [Cutler] does come back, we’re in the hunt and making a run.’’

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns



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