Things are far from fabulous with the Bears' current QB situation, but the team is fortunate to have one of the better backup QBs in the game. And while having one of the better backup QBs in the NFL is not too lofty of an honor for Chicago, the Bears are certainly fortunate not to have to choose between a Scott Tolzien and a Matt Flynn. The good news for Bears fans is that the team didn't bet the house on a healthy #1 QB. The bad news? No matter how hard the meatheads clap their hands, Josh McCown will never be the caliber of QB that Jay Cutler is.
To sum up the difference between the two quarterbacks in two plays, one need only look to the first drive of the last two divisonal games. First, Jay Cutler's touchdown toss to Brandon Marshall from the first quarter against Detroit:
Cutler gets plenty of mustard on his pass, putting the ball where only Marshall can make the play. Just what you'd expect from the biggest football bromance this side of Mississippi.
Here, McCown does the one thing you really don't want to do when throwing to your All-Pro WR in single coverage - underthrow the ball and give the DB a chance to make a play. While Marshall is able to get enough of the ball to make sure that Green Bay didn't come up with the pick, this was an easy six points that McCown left on the field.
In my mind, there is zero question that a healthy Jay Cutler is light years ahead of a healthy Josh McCown, but the question against Detroit and now moving forward is not so straightforward. Would you prefer 100% of McCown over 75% of Cutler? What about 60% of Cutler? How about 25%?
The good news for the Bears and fans alike is that McCown was able to find Marshall in the end zone on his second deep shot from the drive featured above, and he was able to get just enough offense yesterday against the Ravens to eke out the win. But you only get so many second chances in the NFL, and you have to wonder if he'll be so lucky moving forward.
In another game or two, the Bears will be faced with the same question they had to answer against Detroit - just how healthy must Jay Cutler be to be an improvement over McCown? My eyes tell me that a slightly gimpy Cutler is going to outperform a healthy McCown, but the second half of the Detroit game proved that a very gimpy Cutler isn't going to be able to do the job as well as the former (and presumably future) high school football coach. Since I'm not quite sure how to answer this one, I'm leaving it up to you in the poll below.
And let's keep this comment thread from becoming a McCown-troversy battleground. The question is how healthy Cutler should be before you would consider him an upgrade over McCown and how fast Cutler himself will try and get back onto the field in his contact year, not whether or not the team should cut Cutler and sign McCown to a five-year deal. Peyton Manning looked all right last night with a duct taped ankle, after all, so play head coach and figure out when you consider playing Cutler and when you would keep him holding the clipboard.