His time in the Windy City was short, but the impact Josh McCown had on the franchise lasts to this day. He only played for the Chicago Bears from 2011 to 2013, but he won the “Media Good Guy” award in 2013, an award voted on and presented by the Chicago chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America. He was named to the USA Today’s All-Joe Team, which goes to an unsung player on each franchise, following his 2013 season. And he was also awarded the prestigious Brian Piccolo Award by the Bears in May of 2014.
Earlier today, McCown announced his retirement via an article in The Player’s Tribune.
Calling him a Bears’ legend is an admitted bit of hyperbole, but I was a fan of his when he played in Chicago and always rooted for him when he moved on from the Bears.
In that remarkable 2013 season he played in just eight games, with five starts, while throwing 13 touchdown passes to only 1 interception, for a franchise best, single-season passer rating of 109.0. If you go by the newer QBR (from ESPN), he also holds the highest such single-season mark in Bears’ history at 83.4.
In fact, no other quarterback (minimum 200 passing attempts) in the history of the Bears’ franchise has a higher career passer rating than Josh’s 101.0.
McCown was signed by the Bears in November of 2011 to back up Caleb Hanie after Jay Cutler injured his thumb making a tackle against the Chargers. McCown was coaching high school football when the Bears called, but he jumped at a chance to get back into the league after playing with the UFL’s Hartford Colonials in 2010.
With Hanie at quarterback in 2011, the Bears limped to four straight losses, so they turned to McCown for week 16 in Green Bay. He was rusty in his first start against the Packers, a game in which they dropped their fifth in a row thanks to Aaron Rodgers’ 5 TD passes, but McCown helped the Bears beat the Vikings in their week 17 contest to end the season 8-8.
He was waived in final cut-downs before the 2012 season, but came back when Cutler suffered a concussion to back up Jason Campbell. Once Jay came back, McCown stuck around as the number three QB to close out the season.
In 2013 he won the number two QB spot behind Cutler, and he saw his first action in a week 7 game against Washington where he went 14 of 20 for 204 yards, with a passing touchdown, while rushing 4 times for 33 yards in Chicago's narrow 41 to 45 loss.
McCown played from 2002-2009 for five different teams, then for another five teams from 2011-2018, but his best season was 2013 under the guidance of Marc Trestman. He finished third in the NFL in passer rating, and his interception percentage of 0.4 was lowest in the league. That year he was also the first Bears’ QB to throw for 300 yards in three consecutive games.
To this day, many Bears’ fans wonder what could have happened had the Bears stuck with McCown for all of 2013 instead of turning to back Cutler.
What are your favorite memories of the short, but sweet, Josh McCown era in Chicago?