LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Josh McCown thinks he’s up to a task no Chicago Bears quarterback, starter or backup, has been able to handle in recent years.
McCown is starting in place of injured Jay Cutler on Monday night at Lambeau Field against a Green Bay defense that has dominated the Bears since Dom Capers became the Packers’ defensive coordinator.
“I feel like we’ll be ready to put our best foot forward as good as we ever have here in the past,” McCown said Thursday. “That obviously gives you a comfort level as a quarterback going into this game.”
Considering recent history, it’s easy for the Bears to believe their backup gives them no worse a chance to beat a team they’ve lost to six straight times. In fact, it was McCown who led the Bears’ offense to its greatest point production against Green Bay since 2008 — a 35-21 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field in 2011.
McCown’s memory of it?
“I remember that we lost, that would be first thing,” said McCown, who has had two weeks of preparation after a bye.
McCown, who led the Bears to 24 points Oct. 20 against Washington after Cutler tore a groin muscle, completed 19 of 28 passes for 242 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in the 2011 game at Green Bay.
Cutler’s passer rating against the Packers is 54.8, with eight TD passes, 17 interceptions and one win in eight starts.
There is a difference between the two quarterbacks, requiring an adjustment for receivers that the numbers can’t explain.
“Josh is Chad Pennington and Jay Cutler is Brett Favre,” Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall said. “They’re totally different. Chad Pennington — great teammate, awesome guy. You get on the field, you’re not even 3 yards to your break point and the ball’s already in the air. Josh is going to have that ball in the air before you even turn your head.
“Jay has such a strong arm, he has room to play with as far as the timing goes. Jay has a special arm that I don’t think many guys have in the NFL.”
At least this time, McCown has had a full offseason and training camp to be ready for the Packers. He recalled his last start against them after being signed off waivers during a late-season Bears collapse when Cutler broke his thumb. It was his first start after Caleb Hanie had failed as backup.
“It’s certainly been nice to go through the offseason this time around, and be in the system, no doubt,” he said. “It’s a fun system for quarterbacks. It really is.
“You’ve seen obviously Jay so far this season play at a very efficient level. If you just trust your preparation, what (quarterbacks) coach (Matt) Cavanaugh and coach (Marc) Trestman have asked us to do, you can play productive football. You can play efficient football and move your team. That’s the idea.”
While McCown’s knowledge of the offense is expected to be high, so is his leadership in the huddle.
“Josh is the kind of leader as the backup quarterback; he quietly transcends our locker room in a lot of different ways because of his experience and just the kind of person he is,” Trestman said of the 11-year veteran. “Now he’s just moved into the position where he’s got to take the snaps, but it really hasn’t changed the type of leader that he is or the way that he goes about doing business.
“He’s just, on a play-by-play basis, communicating more directly with the guys because they’re running those plays with him.”
McCown admitted ending the streak can look like an impossible task.
“There can be a sense of ‘Man, how are we going to do this?'” McCown said. “But they have lost games, people have beat them. It’s just taking it a play at a time and focusing on what you have to do that play.”
NOTES: Cornerback Charles Tillman did not practice Thursday for personal reasons. Tillman missed the last half against the Redskins and has been slowed by a knee injury, but Trestman is confident he’ll have Tillman available Monday.
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