The Bears are sitting at 6-4 in large part due to Josh McCown's great play in the absence of Jay Cutler. McCown is 2-0, he's gone 61-of-101 (60.4 percent) for 754 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.
While the no interceptions is great and with one more interception-free pass he'll match Jay Cutler's longest interception-free streak of his career, McCown has still attempted just under one-third less passes than Cutler.
Cutler is 31 and he is 487 yards away from breaking the franchise's career passing yards record. Cutler currently ranks second in touchdown passes, second in completion percentage and first in quarterback rating. If McCown had played his entire career in Chicago, his career passing yards (7,752) would place him eighth on the list, his touchdowns (42) would be good for tenth and his passer rating (73.6) would be tied for ninth.
In other words, Cutler is statistically among the best quarterback the team has had in its ninety-three year history and, although McCown would still be top ten, he'd be in Billy Wade-Bob Avellini territory. While Wade won a championship, he was a mediocre quarterback the rest of his career.
Cutler has not yet reached his full potential in the Trestman system. While McCown hasn't either, McCown is on pace for 3,016 yards in a full season with 20 touchdowns and (yes), zero interceptions. This would be incredible but he's bound to have an interception at some point. The record for fewest interceptions in a 16 game season is held by Tom Brady in 2010 and Steve DeBerg in 1990. So let's say McCown was able to tie that feat, in a full season his 2013 would look like this: 60.4 percent pass completion-rate, for 3,016 yards, 20 touchdowns, 4 interceptions and somewhere around a 95-97 rating.
Cutler, on the other hand, a full 16 game season for him using his numbers are as follows: 63 percent completion-rate, 3,816 yards, 26 touchdowns and 16 interceptions and somewhere around an 88.4 rating.
So, you ask yourself, would I rather live with 800 less yards, one-fourth fewer interceptions but six fewer touchdowns versus the 800 yards, six touchdowns and more turnovers?
Well Steve Ronkowski gave a pretty straightforward answer on Monday with two simple GIFs. I encourage you to go back to that story and watch the GIFs. If plays like that are where the extra touchdowns and yards come from I would take that every time, personally.
People might still be thinking, but with McCown taking such better care of the football, surely the team will score more points, protect leads better and end up with a better record.
In theory yes, but let's look at a rather simple marker: points per game for Cutler vs. McCown. And before it is pointed out that the number is skewed by defensive and/or special teams touchdowns, I took those out of the equation.
McCown has two full games under his belt and has played roughly three-quarters of another two. He originally relieved Cutler in the second quarter of the game at Washington and then again with just over two minutes to play in the Detroit game. In those games McCown has led the Bears, directly, to 73 points or 18.3 points per game. Cutler, on the other hand, in all or part of eight games, has led the Bears directly to 164 points or 20.5 points per game.
That may be less than a field goal difference but with the same supporting cast of skill plays, same offensive play calling and same offensive line, over the course of a season, the Cutler-led team will score 328 points vs. 293 for the McCown-led squad. That's a 35-point difference.
While McCown appears to be a better quarterback for not turning the ball over, he is also a much more conservative quarterback who will lead more drives that end in field goals than touchdowns in the course of a season.
While that formula has worked for the Bears in the past, like in 2005 with Kyle Orton, the team had an incredible defense that held opponents in check.
The 2013 version of the team needs all the points it can get. Cutler is not only younger than McCown but he has a brighter future, especially in this offense.
The long-term answer has never changed, there should be no quarterback controversy in Chicago. Cutty does it.
More from Windy City Gridiron:
- The Bears Den: November 22, 2013 - Week 12 news & notes
- Thursday Tweets: Chicago Bears Press Conference and Practice Updates
- Chicago Bears Sackwatch 2013: Week 11 vs. Baltimore Ravens
- The Bears Den: November 21, 2013 - Week 12 news & notes
- Chicago Bears Playbook - Jon Bostic's Steady Improvement
- Pleased to Meet You: Week 12, St. Louis Rams