Rich Gannon was a 36-year-old journeyman quarterback without a single season over 60.0 percent on completions when Marc Trestman entered his life in 2001. Less than two years later, Gannon won the NFL Most Valuable Player award with a career year and a completion percentage of 67.6.
Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown was a 34-year-old journeyman with a career completion percentage of 58.0 when Trestman first applied his Midas touch. After taking over as Jay Cutler's injury replacement, McCown boasts a 66.8 completion percentage, a 13:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and seven consecutive games with a passer rating over 90.0.
McCown was masterful against Monte Kiffin's overmatched Dallas Cowboys defense Monday night, leading the Bears to a 45-28 victory while becoming the first Chicago quarterback since Jack Concannon in 1970 to pass for four touchdowns and rush for another.
As NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah opined, McCown's physical tools can't match Cutler's ceiling, but his floor is higher due to a consistency edge. McCown has shown excellent pocket awareness, ball placement and timing with a more impressive two-month stretch than Cutler has ever produced.
Trestman maintained after Monday night's game that McCown's performance does not change the plan. Once Cutler is healthy enough to play, he's the starter.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday afternoon that the Bears are "hopeful" of getting Cutler back from his high-ankle sprain for Week 15 against the Browns. Rapoport also surmised that with every quality performance by McCown, it's looking "less and less likely" that the Bears will re-sign Cutler to a long-term extension this offseason.
Given the latter scenario, it's hardly a foregone conclusion that Cutler will keep McCown at bay if he struggles to move the ball in his return to game action. The episodic nature of the NFL's weekly schedule creates unexpected storylines, sending seasons careening in directions previously unimaginable. One week is an eternity. Situations don't get more fluid than this one in Chicago.
Trestman long has been one of professional football's premier offensive strategists and quarterback gurus. His offensive system is a quarterback's best friend. Throw in the NFL's most dominant wide receiver duo, and the Bears are in fine shape on offense whether it's McCown or Cutler under center.
Bears general manager Phil Emery isn't keen on applying the $16.2 million franchise tag to Cutler. There's a very real possibility the Bears will move on rather than lock him up to a contract that will likely average more than that per season.
If Cutler isn't the future and McCown has the hot hand, Trestman has all of the elements for a full-blown quarterback quandary with three games remaining at Cleveland, at Philadelphia and home to the Packers. In a two-way tie for first place in the NFC North with the Packers lurking, neither Cutler nor Trestman has margin for error.