Posted December 10, 2013

Josh McCown leads flawless Bears’ offense to 45-28 rout of Cowboys

Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, NFC East, NFC North
Josh McCown was superb against the Cowboys on Monday night, throwing for 348 yards and four TDs. (MCT via Getty Images)

Josh McCown was superb against the Cowboys on Monday, throwing for 348 yards and four TDs. (MCT via Getty Images)

There will be plenty of discussions in the coming weeks and months regarding Jay Cutler’s future in Chicago. Should the Bears re-sign him to a multi-year deal? Franchise tag him? Let him walk?

The situation is, at best, murky.

Here’s something that is a lot clearer: Neither Cutler nor any other QB in the league could have performed much better than Josh McCown did Monday night. The Bears possessed the ball nine times against the visiting Cowboys. They scored eight times and took one knee to run out the clock — 45 points in all, for a convincing victory.

McCown, who has been plenty impressive in his starts with Cutler sidelined, fended off a sub-zero wind chill to hit on 27-of-36 passes for 348 yards and five touchdowns in all (four passing, one rushing). Each one of those TD tosses went to a different Bear, too: Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, Michael Bush and Earl Bennett all on the receiving end.

Cutler could be ready to return as soon as next Sunday’s game in Cleveland, and first-year head coach Marc Trestman said again following his latest win that Cutler would be the starter again when healthy. McCown has proven to be a pretty solid alternative.

“He’s comfortable out there, no game is too big for him,” Matt Forte told ESPN’s Lisa Salters. “I’m proud of Josh, he’s been doing a great job.”

How a game like Monday’s plays into the Bears’ longer-term plans at the quarterback position is somewhat of a mystery, mainly because no one’s really sure how Trestman feels about Cutler as his franchise player. And Monday’s win may have been as much about Dallas’ league-worst defense as it was about the Bears.

“They did a very good job moving the football on our defense, consistently throughout the game,” said Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. “It became one of those ballgames where you had to match serve every time and we weren’t able to do that.”

Still, in the interim, Trestman has taken the 34-year-old journeyman McCown — with previous stops in Arizona, Detroit, Oakland and Carolina — and helped turn him into the confident leader of a very dangerous offense. Over his past four starts, McCown has completed 70 percent of his passes, with nine touchdowns and just one interception.

That the Bears are but 2-2 in those outings somewhat overshadows McCown’s performance. He has managed to develop a strong rapport with Alshon Jeffery (as evidenced by the duo’s highlight-reel TD Monday) and he keeps on spreading the wealth across a talented Chicago offense.

“Every day the offense, we set a standard for ourselves the way we want to perform,” McCown said, “and we held to that.”

The Cowboys eventually rolled over, but they came out and delivered the first haymaker. After receiving the opening kickoff, they rammed the ball down the Bears’ throats, opening the game with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that featured six carries by DeMarco Murray.

Neither Chicago nor McCown wasted any time responding. The Bears turned around with a 12-play TD march of their own, pushed along by Matt Forte’s running and five McCown completions to four different receivers.

McCown then scrambled home for a score — and a 14-7 lead — on the Bears’ next possession, finding the end zone just three plays after WR Brandon Marshall buried Dallas linebacker Sean Lee with a wicked block.

If Dallas didn’t have the message before then, Marshall stamped it home: The Bears were not about to be out-toughed or outplayed, in a game they badly needed and on a night that saw them retire Mike Ditka’s jersey during a halftime ceremony.

“The playoff picture and all that other stuff, we can’t focus on,” McCown said. “We have to focus on what’s in front of us.”

Chicago still needs three wins and some help to claim the NFC North title from here. That leaves the Bears in a worse situation than Dallas, even after Monday’s beatdown. For all their obvious flaws, the Cowboys still control their own destiny in the NFC East — close the season with three victories, including one in Week 17 over Philadelphia, and the playoffs are theirs.

If you had to pick the more postseason-worthy team from Monday’s night action, though, there would be no contest.

Unlike their rivals from Green Bay, who have limped along without starting QB Aaron Rodgers, the Bears have not missed a step minus Cutler. They are 4-4 in his eight starts this year and now 3-2 with McCown leading the offense.

Does that mean that the Bears will throw in the towel on Cutler to stick with McCown, who will turn 35 before next season? It is probably too early to say, especially without knowing if Trestman has his eye on any of the quarterbacks that might be available in the upcoming draft.

But that the Bears have been no worse for the wear sans Cutler speaks volumes about Trestman’s system, as well as about McCown’s readiness to step in under trying circumstances.

McCown has not been flawless, and expecting him to maintain this current level of play after a decade’s worth of rather nondescript seasons in this league probably is unrealistic.

Monday night, however, he and the Bears were close to perfect.

“We knew were capable of this kind of performance,” McCown said. “We put it all together tonight.”

34 comments
Storm1
Storm1

Seriously:  1st year new coach; key injured players; Urlacher gone...leave 'em alone.  Keep everything the same.  They're doing great for what they've been through.  Maybe no Superbowl this year...but they're gonna rock '14.  Go Bears!

Joe R2
Joe R2

And to rub it in Cowgirl fans' faces.... Ratliff even got a sack on Romo.  Cry some more Dallas fans!


Bwahahahahaha!!

jbc123
jbc123

Never thought I'd see the words McCown, flawless, and rout, used in the same sentence. I don't think I'd be making Super Bowl reservations quite yet.

BandidoBigotes
BandidoBigotes

As much as I like McCown he's 34... keep him for 2 years and start over again? McCown can flourish at 34 but cant give Cutler a full year in the system? Cutler is the better long term solution, this discussion is only for barfans and media chatter. We finally have two competent qbs and now we want to get rid of the younger, more talented one. Only in Beardom. Keep both!

Kevin11
Kevin11

Let Cutler walk. Then, sign McCown for 3 years, and draft a qb this year or next. The money they save will allow them to fix their defense, which pretty much gave Murray a free ticket to run all over them all night.

George
George

There ARE NO questions any more - JOSH is the Bears qb.  

He's playing lights-out, and he costs 1/10th what Jay Cutler costs.


Pay Cutler $20million when he should stay on the bench?

No-brainer.


Let's see now:  Jay Cutler - Jaguar ... no ... Jay Cutler - raider ... no ...

BarrySoetoro
BarrySoetoro

Jason Garrett looked like a little girl on the sideline all bundled up with his little snow hat at just the right angle--what a wussie.

JohnnyNacho
JohnnyNacho

McCown is playing so well, Trestman has a tough call to make but in now way do I feel he would have a mutiny on his hands if he stuck with the hot hand for the playoff push.

tangerinewarrior
tangerinewarrior

My main concern with Cutler is if he will be healthy going forward. I would make the argument that 2 of his 4 losses came from him being injured. If he was rested properly, I think da Bears would have picked up at least another win. Furthermore, the bad coaching decision the other week during overtime cost da Bears another win. Chicago could very easily have had the NFC North in their favor....


I like Cutler, I think he was the best QB the team has had in a LONG while, but he can't stay healthy. At this point, if I wanted him to have the job next year, I'd bench him for the rest of the season, since McCown is doing good and going to the playoffs seems a little out of reach. I can easily see da Bears picking up a QB in the draft, then having him back up Cutler or McCown next year before taking the reigns in 2015.


Right now, the real problem in Chicago is the porous defensive line. Fix that, and you have a team that should sweep the North next year.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

Jay Cutler is every bit the quarterback as Jerry Jones is a general-manager. Oh, and as Mike Shanahan is a head coach.

Thomas15
Thomas15

Dallas could lose out. If Rodgers plays that means no loading 8 guys in the box which makes it a LOT harder to stop Starks and Lacy. dallas loses if rodgers plays. The skins looks like a gimme win right now but if they have a new coach they're playing for they will all step up to save their jobs and it's cowboys vs. redskins anyway. If there's one team in the League a bad and dysfunctional skins team will get up for it's the dallas cowboys. The Eagles are going to beat Peterson-less bikes and will run all over that pathetic bears defense. 


The cowboys could very well lose to Matt Barkley and Eagles back-ups when the Eagles sit their starters in Week 17. 

BabylonDon
BabylonDon

I've been loving the McCown to Jefferies connection, but I don't understand Chicago fans sometimes.Before we decide that McCown is The Natural, remember he threw three picks last night; Dallas just dropped them.The fact that the Chicago sports writers don't get along with Cutler doesn't change the fact that even with a different OC every year along with one of the worst O-lines in NFL history, he still owns about half of the franchise QB records.


Most of have spent a lifetime waiting for the Bears to have a quarterback that could win a game, rather than just 'not lose' it. But now that we have one, half of us want to ditch him in place of a 35 year old back-up who has a losing record. No matter how good the Trestman system is, it's going to be better with more talented personnel.


Also, it would be nice if someone could even accidentally stop the run on defense.

CWWJ
CWWJ

Not to take a single thing away from Josh McCown -- he was unstoppable -- he was playiing against not only the worst defense in the NFL, but the worst defense in Dallas Cowboys' franchise history.   The Cowboys have little chance to win their division, but they can hope that McCown and company will defeat the Eagles next Sunday in Philly, while Dallas has to beat Green Bay to stay alive.  The Cowboys then must meet the Redskins while the Eagles play the Vikings -- two weak teams that should be the tuneup for the showdown between the Eagles and the Cowboys, which the Eagles should win in a walk.

scotto80
scotto80

Tony Romo is the Mr. October .....of Football

Blinker
Blinker

Love it!!!!!!!!


EAT IT JERRY!!!!!!!!!

sunalsorises
sunalsorises

How can a professional defense be this bad?  They had almost two weeks to prepare for a scrub QB and made him look like an all pro.

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

And we thought the Pats and Packers defense sucked the worst

Sammyz
Sammyz

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the Bears best bet is to sign Cutler to a deal and then trade him.  Better to get something...anything for him that to let him walk for  nothing. 

Thomas15
Thomas15

'Turn out the liaightsssss, the party's over-r-r-r'…………


here's looking at YOU don meredith, you nasty cowboy drunkard.

tlm773458
tlm773458

Another idea...Jay Cutler - Texan, Especially if Houston hires Lovie Smith as HC

George
George

@BarrySoetoro Garrett-top is going to be the next Jerry Jones sacrifice.    Adios, firecrotch!

:D


JohnnyNacho
JohnnyNacho

Is that Jerry Jones minus Jimmy Johnson and Shanny minus John Elway?  What if Jimmy Johnson would have coached John Elway?  7 straight Super Bowl victories would have ensued....

sunalsorises
sunalsorises

@Thomas15 Don't forget that Cousins will likely be starting against the Cowboys which instantly makes the Redskins a better team.

Bearsclone
Bearsclone

@BabylonDon I have two concerns with Cutler:


1) He gets hurt a lot.  It's not his fault, it's not like he gets hurt being reckless, but still, he gets hurt a lot.  Unlike MJD or other pundits, I don't question his toughness and ability to cope with pain, but ultimately your body has to be strong enough to play a very physical game and it seems like Cutler's body just doesn't hold up.


2) Maturity.  Until this season there were some questions about Cutler's maturity.  How he dealt with team mates, how he dealt with coaches, even how he dealt with media (the least important part of his job, but still an indicator of maturity.).  This year he seems like he's made a massive effort to be a mature and professional leader.  But is that because he finally "gets" it, maybe because he's married with a child and another on the way?  Or is it because it's a contract year?  If he gets a long term deal, will he be telling Marc Trestman to eff himself next year like he told Martz?


McCown has played very well, but he's not the long term solution at all.  I don't think the Bears can just get rid of Cutler and assume that they're okay, and I don't think they think that.  But I also am not sure if Cutler is going to ever lead the Bears to anything, because I'm not confident in his ability to stay healthy or whether he's really a changed person.

Joe R2
Joe R2

@sunalsorises


That scrub QB made the Cowgirls look like the worst defense in the NFL....Oh wait, they ARE the worst defense in the NFL....  Cowboys suck

Bearsclone
Bearsclone

@sunalsorises Dallas can't prepare for those giant receivers.  It's not the QB who beat them (he tried to throw 3 INTs) it's the receivers that they can't possibly cover.

RCH
RCH

@sunalsorises and at the same time the Saints defense goes from horrible last year to a top five defense this year. 

I wonder if there's a connection?

Shooter McGavin 19711
Shooter McGavin 19711

Trading Cutler after signing him is not an option. It would kill the Chicago salary cap thanks to his signing bonus, and Cutler is not that sought after that a team is going to five up much for him when he has a new contract.

BabylonDon
BabylonDon

As I recall Cutler threw himself into Martz's system. He learned (yet another) complex defense. And he made the long drops and he took the hits, long after it became apparent that the system lacked the personnel, and he was getting Cutler creamed at a record pace. And Martz refused to face reality and make the necessary adjustments. Cutler took 3 seasons worth of punishment under Martz. He more than earned the right to tell Martz off.


sunalsorises
sunalsorises

@Bearsclone Sure they can.  The Bears were at .500 which means they weren't exactly setting the world on fire with their giant receivers.  

JohnnyNacho
JohnnyNacho

I like the thought process to at least get something for him but this isn't the NBA where the sign and trade scenario happens frequently.  Shooter is right w/ how the rules are setup in the NFL.  It looks more and more like Cutler will walk if nothing is resolved long term.  I do like how Emery publicly made it known there's little chance they franchise Jay.