This is the time of year when optimism reigns supreme in the NFL. Everybody is 0-0, and everybody – players, front office, and fans alike – believe their team is capable of winning the Super Bowl. This is also the time of year though – with hope busy springing eternal and all – that some players, so full of excitement and bravado, get loose in the media and say something completely outlandish, which is what Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Jonathan Casillas recently did during an interview. He compared new Bucs QB Josh McCown with New Orleans Saints superstar Drew Brees, leaving many to wonder if he’s taken one too many blows to the head.
On the Dave Rothenberg Show recently, Casillas was asked about his new QB.
“McCown is just, he’s on another level right now, I believe. Don’t take anything from Glennon; he’s just only in his second year, but McCown looks like he’s played a couple of years in this game. It’s a strong comparison, but he reminds me of Drew Brees, not just the way he throws the ball, but his approach to the game.”
Now obviously Casillas couldn’t go on the show and say he thought the team’s new starter was a bum who couldn’t pass his way out of a wet paper bag. He obviously had to throw some support behind his team’s new quarterback. But in trying to pump up his new QB, Casillas may have overreached a bit, to say the least.
While it’s true that McCown had a few good games for the Chicago Bears last season, it’s very well worth noting that it was a handful of good games in an otherwise below average 11-year career. It’s also very well worth noting that McCown piled up the gaudy stats that have some folks thinking he’s the second coming of Brees against teams that struggled last season. In 2013, 11 of his 13 touchdown passes came against the Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings. So, it’s not as if McCown actually put up numbers against the league’s elite teams.
Over the course of his career, McCown has compiled a 16-22 record as a starter, thrown for 8,827 yards, 50 touchdowns against 45 interceptions, and has a career QB rating of 77.5. And since Casillas opened that door, by comparison, Brees has put together a 110-75 record, has thrown for 51,081 yards, 363 touchdowns against 177 interceptions and has a career QB rating of 95.3.
Yeah, it’s easy to see how Casillas sees the striking similarity between McCown and Brees, isn’t it? Comparing McCown to Brees is actually sort of like saying a Ford Pinto is the same thing as a Lamborghini Countach.
Surely there was another veteran journeyman quarterback with a very pedestrian career that Casillas could have compared McCown with?
New Bucs head coach Lovie Smith obviously sees something in McCown that very few other people around the league – not to mention the people who have seen him play over his eleven years in the NFL – see. After getting the job in Tampa Bay, Smith wasted no time in acquiring McCown and installing him as the team’s starter, even though Mike Glennon showed some terrific upside in 2013 and looked poised to take the next step toward being a very good NFL QB.
While McCown is a serviceable backup – which is still a generous description – who had a few good games last season, it’s difficult to imagine him having any sort of sustained success as a starting quarterback in the league, mainly because in 11 years in the league, he’s never really had any sort of success.
This is the time of year when every player and every fan has hope, when everybody wants to believe. But in comparing McCown to Brees, Casillas has blown through the line that separates the rational from the absurd, the line that separates talking up a teammate and just plain talking crazy.
But hey, at least it gave us all a good laugh on an otherwise slow news day.