AL HAMNIK: McCown happy to keep the seat warm for Cutler

2013-11-18T18:45:00Z 2014-06-24T20:06:22Z AL HAMNIK: McCown happy to keep the seat warm for CutlerAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
November 18, 2013 6:45 pm  • 

CHICAGO | You can understand why pro athletes simply tolerate their fans, most of whom blow hot and cold, and can turn on them in an instant like a rabid dog.

Starter Jay Cutler is hurt, again, suffering a high ankle sprain after an earlier torn groin muscle. It hurts just going over his history of game-related injuries.

Backup Josh McCown is a refreshing topic because he's able to stay on the field and can manage a game without having it blow up in his face -- not yet, at least.

For that reason, fans are calling for Bears' coach Marc Trestman to stick with McCown down the stretch, when each game means more than the one after.

Your fickle fans want this, thinking with their hearts, not their heads. And what do they base it on? Just 2 1/2 quarters and wins over Green Bay and Baltimore.

"Jay is the quarterback of our football team and Josh is the backup quarterback, and the three of us all know that," Trestman said.

It hasn't stopped fans from sounding off on local radio or tweeting their anti-Cutler sentiments to anyone who'll listen.

What they all need to do is sit down, take a deep breath, and shut up.

"I have said this over and over again. I'm the backup quarterback on this team. I am merely keeping the seat warm for Jay," McCown said. "The way I serve my team is to play when the starter is not healthy."

McCown is mayoral material in Chicago at the moment. A rock star in shoulder pads and cleats. Humble. Fearless. Productive. Steady.

Oh, how Bears' fans love their quarterback to be steady.

"You have opportunities in life -- rare opportunities -- to do some special things," McCown said. "(Sunday) was a chance to be special, as a group.

"To look at 10 other guys in the huddle and say: 'I've got your back, you've got mine, and we're gonna do something special,' was so cool for me."

Cutler gives the Bears big-play potential; McCown keeps them from leaving the road and crashing.

Cutler has become a better leader, a better listener, with Trestman as the QB Whisperer; McCown will run through a wall for you and then ask why?

Cutler has greater velocity on his throws and is able to thread the needle on tight coverages; McCown is accurate but not a gambler who'll risk everything.

Cutler made the Pro Bowl in Denver; McCown has bounced around with the Cardinals, Lions, Panthers and now earns a paycheck with the Bears.

When they called, he was coaching high school football.

One day, he may write a book on humility and teamwork.

McCown's growing fan club points to his 60 percent pass completion rate, 754 yards, five touchdowns, no interceptions and his 100.0 QB rating.

"My dad always says about the football: 'That thing is oblong and bounces funny.' I always think about that," McCown said. "You never know from week to week in this league.

"All you can do is play the game in front of you."

Enough second-guessing, Bears fans.

Look at it this way. This may be the best backup quarterback in team history. Be happy about that.

The kid has been a gift.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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