Why McCown is on the list
McCown generated a passer rating over 90.0 in all seven games in which he saw extensive action as Jay Cutler's backup in Chicago. He finished the season on top of ESPN's Total QBR and drew comparisons to Peyton Manning and Tom Brady for a two-month span that exceeded any similar stretch of Cutler's career.
When I went back and studied all 224 of McCown's passes, what first jumped out was his excellent pocket awareness, escapability and willingness to hang in and take hits while still delivering accurate strikes down the field. In his first month under center, McCown made more plays while being hit than Matt Schaub has pulled off in his last 20 games.
Typical of most 11-year veterans, McCown went through his reads and showed impressive ball placement and timing. Atypical of aging quarterbacks, McCown also demonstrated uncanny athleticism, improvisational skills and a willingness to attempt difficult throws in traffic.
Which raises the obvious question: Hasn't he already made the leap?
No team was willing to reward McCown as if he will repeat the success he enjoyed with Trestman. We believe he will.
The McCown skepticism has centered on four factors: his age (35 in July); his lack of success over a decade of NFL experience; how he will function outside of Trestman's offense; and whether he can succeed without the best wide-receiver duo in football.
The age isn't a major hindrance, as evidenced by the success of older quarterbacks, such as Manning, Brady and Drew Brees. His inability to hold down a starting job might be attributable to the dysfunctional nature of the organizations for which he toiled early in his career. If accuracy and arm strength were concerns at earlier stops, those were mitigated by the catch radii of the Bears power forwards hauling in his passes.
The light goes on for different players at different stages in their careers. Rich Gannon was a 36-year-old journeyman quarterback without a single season over 60 percent on completions when Trestman helped to ignite his career with the Raiders last decade.
It bodes well for McCown's chances that he outplayed Cutler despite receiving fewer practice reps in Trestman's system.
He's not going to repeat last year's 13:1 TD-to-INT ratio, 66.5 percent completion rate, 9.1 yards per attempt and 109.0 passer rating without Trestman and the Bears' bullying wide-receiver corps.
It's fair to expect McCown to hold off Mike Glennon all season, though. Coach Lovie Smith already has anointed the grizzly veteran as his quarterback while Tedford and position coach Marcus Arroyo have been downright effusive in praise of his influence and leadership after just a few offseason practices.