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Bears Tue Dec 10 2013

No Question Who the Bears' Number 1s Are

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngLet's get one thing straight from the outset: Josh McCown is the backup quarterback for the Chicago Bears. Marc Trestman has said it. McCown himself has said it. When Jay Cutler is at 100 percent physically, he will return to his position as the starter.

Yes, McCown has been fantastic. A 109.8 QB rating will attest to that. Look at it contextually, though, and the picture becomes clearer as to why a 34-year-old journeymen QB who the Bears nabbed from the assistant coaching ranks at a high school in North Carolina.

Ignoring the Detroit game where he only played in the last two minutes, he's faced just one team ranked higher than 22nd according to Pro Football Focus (Baltimore). McCown has had the benefit of picking on the 30th (Washington), 26th (Green Bay), 22nd (St. Louis), 24th (Minnesota), and 29th (Dallas) ranked defenses in the NFL (the Bears are dead last). You can dream of McCown being the future of the franchise if it gets you to sleep quicker at night -- just know that Cutler would've drubbed those teams just as much as McCown has.

Don't forget that Cutler was having a career best season before he went down with an injury either. He had one bad game against Detroit, and struggled a bit before going down against Washington. He's far more talented in terms of arm strength, and despite your thoughts to the contrary, is a more accurate thrower. He gets loose with the football more often than McCown, but that risk comes with with benefit of fitting balls into places others simply can't. Red zone struggles the few weeks prior to last night's laugher had a lot to do with the fact that McCown and Trestman weren't comfortable calling plays inside the 20 that relied on a bullet for a throw.

Bears fans love their backup quarterbacks, but that's because the starter sucked for so many years. Cutler doesn't. McCown has looked great because he's a talented player with his head on straight running a brilliantly designed offense. He's also been blessed with the best wide receiver combination in the league since, arguably, the Larry Fitzgerald/Anquan Boldin combination that went to the Super Bowl with Kurt Warner in Arizona a few years back, along with an offensive line that has done a really good job at keeping him clean. Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte are immensely talented weapons as well.

Speaking of that wide receiver combination, remember that Brandon Marshall will be the best receiver on this team until the day he leaves. Alshon Jeffery has made some ridiculous catches the past few weeks. He's racked up some crazy numbers as well. But don't forget Marshall.

While still being the best pass catcher on the team, Marshall is also, by far, the best blocking wide receiver in football. Jeffery (and Earl Bennett too) have been great in that regard, but Marshall is on a completely different level (Pro Football Focus backs this up with a +13.6 grade just for blocking -- second place grades at +6.0). Watch the blocks from just this week on McCown's scramble, Bush's swing pass, and Forte's swing pass, and you'll see a player that is totally committed to the success of his team whether he's being targeted in the passing game or not.

Jeffery is a Pro Bowler this season -- no doubt. But so is Marshall, not just from a receiving standpoint, but as a totally complete player.

It's fun to watch the number twos have a bunch of success in a big, meaningful way, but don't forget the guys at the top. They make the tough plays look easy. The great players always do.

 
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