Josh McCown's 2013 season was unprecedented. A combination of a highly-structured offense, big receivers who could compensate for less than accurate throws into coverage and an easy schedule led to him posting some of the best numbers in the NFL -- something the career backup had never come close to doing before.
Despite that outstanding production, Josh McCown received a two-year, $10 million contract from the Bucs -- a per-year average that is one of the lowest in the NFL for starting quarterbacks not on their rookie contracts. The Bucs didn't commit enormous resources to McCown, but that didn't stop them from declaring him their starter and praising his skills every step of the way.
All I ever hear out of Tampa Bay these days is that Josh McCown is all in, making the absolute most of this opportunity.— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) June 8, 2014
Everything we hear on Josh McCown is positive. Whether it's reports on how he looks in offseason workouts, or coaches talking about his leadership, or teammates talking about his approach to the game every single bit of it is massively positive.
Jeff Tedford last week called McCown "One of the truest professionals I've ever been around, as far as just an unbelievable leader, so knowledgeable, puts in extra hours every day studying film." At various points this offseason, Lovie Smith said positive things about McCown. He completely trusts him on and off the football field. He called McCown a "good quarterback that could lead us to a lot of victories," and "exactly what you're looking for in a leader."
This doesn't appear to be just coach speak. After watching him during the team's pre-draft mini-camp, Pewter Report called Josh McCown "the real deal at quarterback", praising effectively every aspect of his game. The consensus among beat writers appears to be that McCown is the starter, that Lovie Smith trusts him, and that he looks better than Glennon in offseason workouts both on the field, and as a leader within and without the walls of One Buccaneer Place. McCown even organized offseason practices when coaches weren't available.
If Josh McCown really is primed for a late-career surge the likes of which we've seen rarely in the NFL, then he's certainly showing all the signs. He put up ridiculous numbers last season, even if his tape didn't always live up to it. Everyone's complimentary of him, there were reasons for his success last year that can be replicated in Tampa (big receivers in a highly structured offense), and McCown has talked about the role his stints as a coach and in the UFL helped him understand the game - possible explanations for a late-career resurgence.
There's room for moderation, of course. McCown suddenly turning into a very good quarterback at this stage in his career is nearly unprecedented, and to expect another 2013 out of him is unrealistic. But all in all, there are quite a few reasons for optimism regarding Josh McCown this season. He's not a long-term solution. He won't be an All-Pro. But it appears that he looks to be set up for success for one or two years. And if you don't have a franchise quarterback, that's all you can ask for.