Let's not get carried away with Josh McCown's performance against the Packers: His best quality Sunday night was that he wasn't Caleb Hanie. Click through the gallery for 10 more observations on the Bears.
Updated: December 26, 2011 12:18PM
The Bears were in a no-win situation with Josh McCown, but it was their own fault.
Whether he was as bad as Caleb Hanie or played like Jay Cutler, anything McCown did against the Packers on Sunday night was an indictment of the Bears’ ability to evaluate quarterbacks. As it turned out, he was right in the middle — better than Hanie but still far short of Cutler in the Bears’ 35-21 loss to the Packers that eliminated them from playoff contention.
Regardless, the effect was hard to ignore: the Bears picked the wrong backup quarterback again. And they’re getting worse at it. Last year, when No. 3 Caleb Hanie was the better option over No. 2 Todd Collins, their best backup was at least on their roster. This season, their best backup was coaching high school football in North Carolina five weeks ago.
And let’s not get carried away with McCown’s performance against the Packers: His best quality Sunday night was that he wasn’t Caleb Hanie. He was lauded for making simple throws that any college quarterback should make. He’s still the guy who was cut by the 49ers in training camp in favor of rookie Scott Tolzien, the former Fremd and Wisconsin star. (And Jim Harbaugh knows much more about quarterbacks than anybody at Halas Hall — unless it was just his luck and coincidence that Rich Gannon, Josh Freeman, Andrew Luck and Alex Smith have flourished under Harbaugh’s tutelage.)
Would the Bears be a playoff contender had McCown replaced Cutler as the starter instead of Hanie? That assumes he would have been ready a week after being signed — which is questionable considering reports that he struggled in his first two weeks with the Bears. And it also assumes that McCown would have sustained his level of competence against the Packers once opponents saw him on tape.
And most of all, it assumes that McCown’s performance against the Packers would have been a winner against the Chiefs, Broncos and Seahawks. That’s highly debatable. While the Bears were in the process of falling behind 35-10, McCown was 8-of-14 for 135 yards, and two interceptions for a 50.3 passer rating. He piled up most of his numbers once the game was no longer in doubt against the 31st-ranked defense in the NFL. McCown was 8-of-11 for 107 yards and a touchdown, a 105.4 rating in the fourth quarter.
McCown was a positive Sunday night mostly because he could get the ball over the plate. If he convinced the Bears he’s their No. 2 or even No. 3 quarterback for next season, the Bears haven’t learned their lesson. He’s a candidate for sure, but if the Bears have learned from their mistakes they should know they can do much, much better. And should. And now, 10 other observations from the Bears-Packers game: