By Jeff Joniak-
Josh McCown is in good hands. Head coach Marc Trestman was first Rich Gannon’s quarterback coach then coordinator in Oakland from 2001-2002. He was 36 and 37-years old in those seasons and was 21-11 as a starter with an AFC title and Super Bowl appearance throwing 53 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. Those were Gannon’s 14th and 15th NFL seasons.
Steve Young quarterbacked the San Francisco 49ers in 1995 and 1996 going 1706 with 34 touchdowns and 17 interceptions and played in three playoff games. Young was 34 and 35 years old in those seasons. Gary Danielson was 38 when started a game for the Cleveland Browns in 1988 when Trestman was the quarterback coach. So was Don Strock who won two starts late that season as the fourth quarterback winning twice and getting the team to the AFC wildcard game before losing a thriller 24-23 to the Houston Oilers. The next season, with Trestman as offensive coordinator he helped Bernie Kosar get to the AFC Title game. Anthony Calvillo starred at quarterback for Trestman’s Montreal team in the Canadian Football league in his late 30’s and early 40’s winning two Grey Cups.
McCown makes his first start for Trestman Monday night November 4 in Green Bay at 34. Age is just a number when it comes to quarterbacks for Trestman. Sometimes, there is magic in NFL maturity.
It takes no talent to play with effort. So no matter how undermanned the defense is without starter grade players like Henry Melton, D. J. Williams, Lance Briggs, Nate Collins, and playing with a banged up Charles Tillman, the effort needs to get jacked up to plug the leaks in the dam. The scheme calls for gap discipline, proper footwork, hand placement, technique, fundamental tackling, and angles to the ball. It calls for population tackling and assignment knowledge. However, like all defenses it calls for effort and execution. No loafs.
The Bears have allowed 39 plays of 20-yards or more this season, including 34 passes trailing only Denver for most in the NFL. However, the Bears are third in the NFL in stopping runs for negative yards with 31 stops, many executed by Briggs, so someone else will have to step up and make those big plays.
Quarterbacks are completing 79% of their 62 targeted throws to tight ends against the Bears defense after seven games. 36 of 37 targeted throws to players like Tyler Eifert(5-for-5) and Jermaine Gresham(5-for-5) of the Bengals, Brandon Pettigrew(7-for-7) of the Lions, Jimmy Graham of the Saints(10-for-11), and Jordan Reed(9-for-9) of the Redskins have been completed. Reed the rookie out of Florida hauled in all nine of his targeted throws doing a lot of damage with seven first downs. Overall, tight ends have caught 49 passes for 584 yards and two touchdowns on the Bears for an average of 11.9 yards-per-catch and 83.4 yards-per game. The Bears still have to play Jason Witten of Dallas, Jordan Cameron of Cleveland, Jared Cook of St. Louis, and Pettigrew of the Lions for a second time.
4th and Short
Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett have combined for eight red zone touchdowns on 21 targeted throws and 13 receptions. That’s a good duo in money time. Denver’s Wes Welker and Julius Thomas lead all NFL receiver-tight end tandems with 13 red zone touchdown catches. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten of Dallas also have eight combined touchdowns in the red zone.
Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play voice of the Chicago Bears on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. You can follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffJoniak.