Josh McCown is the the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' starting quarterback, for now at least, and in large part that's because Lovie Smith trusts him. It's well-established that Lovie was the driving force behind the signing of the veteran passer, and one of the reasons was McCown's leadership. A bit of an odd trait for a career backup quarterback, but everything we've heard suggests that McCown's leadership has been a formidable force this offseason.
Over at The MMQB, Greg Bedard interviewed Jason Licht and came away with a pretty hyperbolic-sounding quote on Josh McCown's leadership.
"Lovie talked about it since day one when I was hired about Josh and how Josh was the type of person we needed in this locker room and on this team for the very reasons you're talking about," Licht said. "Of course I believe what Lovie said and trust him, but to see it firsthand within the first days that we actually signed him ... the guy is just special. He lives, breathes and eats football. Somehow, he just has a way to capture the entire team. They all love this guy. He's really one of the most special leaders I think I've ever been around."
That's high praise coming from Licht, who was around Tom Brady in New England for years. "And I say it meaning it too," Licht said.
It's interesting that McCown's leadership has been consistently highlighted by the Buccaneers, by the press and by the players since the day he stepped into the building. You don't often see this kind of praise for 34-year-old journeymen. They may turn out to be solid game managers, quiet leaders, the kind of people who can make a team a little better. But the story surrounding McCown has been one of an extraordinary leader in all aspects.
McCown is a positive guy, which is one thing, but he's also displayed a willingness to help develop his backup -- most quarterbacks (including Tom Brady) scoff at that. Leadership isn't enough to win games (it always starts on the field), but it certainly can't hurt. And someone who holds everyone accountable without being abrasive can lift the play of an entire unit.
Of course, that same special leader has started all of 38 games in a 12-year career that included a stint in the UFL, and was never good enough to unseat a starting quarterback. There's a little reason to be skeptical, but accounts on the impact of his leadership have been pretty consistent. Now the question is whether he can translate that leadership into on-field play.
In the piece, Licht also acknowledges that both guard positions are problems right now, and that he doesn't know whether Carl Nicks will be able to play. The noises coming out of One Buc Place on Nicks have been largely positive, so that's an interesting and/or disappointing development. Josh McCown can be the greatest leader the game has ever seen, and it will be completely irrelevant if the guards can't play.