Josh McCown may not know all the names yet, but QB shows he can still play
There were times quarterback Josh McCown stepped into the huddle on Thursday night and, while he could remember the play call, he was a bit fuzzy on some his new teammates' names.
“I’m still working on kind of learning everybody’s name and make sure I know all 10 in the huddle,” said McCown, after a pair of well-thrown touchdown passes and going 17-for-24 with 192 yards in the Eagles’ lightening-shortened 26-15 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
“There’s some moments when I look at a guy and trying to give him a tip and I’m, ‘Uh, hey man, uh…’ but that will come in time.”
What didn’t elude McCown was his ability to play. He’s been at it 18 years now; hence his jersey No. 18.
VIDEO: Josh McCown talks about his debut five days after being signed
“I thought he did a really good job,” said head coach Doug Pederson. “He’s a veteran player, obviously. I had him just highlight plays he knew in four days and just called off of that.
"He handled it extremely well, bounced back there in the third quarter and led two touchdown drives and kind of got us back in the game. So I was obviously pleased with the way he handled himself.”
It took most of the offseason for the Eagles to find the backup to Carson Wentz, and it took just three practices and one walkthrough for McCown – signed on Aug. 17 - to ace the audition.
Asked if it feels surreal in a way that it was just last week when he was coaching high school quarterbacks in Charlotte to being back in the NFL and throwing 24 passes, he said: “I’ll say this, and I’ve said it from the day I got here, the reason I came was just the guys in the locker room, the people I’m around, the coaches, and the organization.
“The O line, we started slow, but we got it figured out. That second group fought hard. They protected. The receivers are coached well. They were in the right spot, so for all intents and purposes, I played a lot more football than a lot of those guys.
"It is surreal to a degree but at the same time it’s just about execution and that second group, after we started slow, the second group got their mind made up to do it and they we in the right spots. It made it fun.”
McCown’s first touchdown pass was a 20-yarder to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. His second came with pressure up the middle and right in his face. He was roughed on the play after he threw a nifty pass to Alex Ellis for a 9-yard score.
“The first one to J.J. was man coverage, got the look we wanted,” said McCown. “Doug did a great job of adding that tag on the end of the call. It was what we were looking for and J.J. did a good job of winning. Just put it there in the back of the end zone and he went and got it.
“Second one we looked at pictures on the sideline of things that might be available to us. They went all- out pressure, just kind of faded back, Alex did a good job of quickening up his route and getting open across the middle. I have not seen the catch yet, but obviously he made a heckuva play, and got the touchdown.”
So what becomes of Nate Sudfeld? Probably nothing.
He will be on the roster then he could be placed on Injured Reserve with a designation to return halfway through the season. Or he will just be the third quarterback, same as he always been.
The Eagles, of course, thought he would be the primary backup, and, had Sudfeld not broken his wrist, he probably still would be. Maybe he still will be, though it is difficult to see that happening after the Eagles gave McCown $2 million guaranteed to lure him out of retirement.
Either way, Pederson isn’t committing.
“The beauty of it is we have one more game,” said the coach. “We have one more preseason game to really see these guys in action one more time and make some hard decisions next week.”
Certainly Pederson has to be comfortable with what he saw from McCown, even with a slimmed-down version of the playbook.
McCown, though, isn’t sure he’s ready ... yet.
“I’ll just keep working and get myself going,” he said. “That’s the key. More than anything, I think with the first group there, we kind of sputtered a little bit, and I have to get on the same page and do a better job of handling that first group.
“There’s a lot of things that I need to work on. Like I said, hopefully catch up now and take a breath and dive back into the playbook and some of the nuances of it. I need to keep getting myself ready to go.”