Josh McCown is just a phone call away.
The 35-year-old’s relationship with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler didn’t end when McCown left for a two-year, $10 million contract with the Buccaneers in March. The two still talk and text — mostly about family, but “we do talk a little ball now and then,” McCown said — despite working in quarterback rooms half a country away.
“They still talk and they still watch each other’s tape and they still talk through things,” offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said Thursday. “It’s funny. That’s just their relationship.”
Cutler scoffed at the notion of watching each other’s film — “There’s just not enough time,” he said — with a reunion scheduled for Sunday at Soldier Field.
“Josh is probably good for a lot of people,” Cutler said. “I think you could probably pair him with most of the people in this room and he’d find a way to help make you better. He’s not going to make you worse, I know that. He’s just one of those kind of people.
“So I know he’s doing good things for that quarterback room in Tampa just like he did for us.”
Universally beloved inside Halas Hall, McCown provided an easy-going, confident counterpoint to Cutler’s personality. He could be a leader without being the starter.
“He and Jay really worked well together, because they could work things out,” Kromer said. “He had the veteran experience with Jay, and was a very good backup, because he could talk through things. And then everyone could get on the same page.”
That hasn’t been the case this year, and that’s no shot at Cutler’s new backup, Jimmy Clausen, eight years McCown’s junior.
“Do they work together? Yes. Do they have the studies and do the things? Yes,” Kromer said. “But we’re talking about (eight) years difference in maturity level of a guy that’s seen a lot of football in Josh McCown.
“Jimmy hasn’t seen as much. Jay has a lot more experience. They try to help each other and make the best out of each other.”
Clausen’s impressions of McCown have been second-hand.
“I just know Jay had a good relationship with Josh,” Clausen said, “and he still talks to him now.”
When Clausen signed late in the offseason, his first priority was to learn the offense and earn a job, Cutler said. He’s since “graduated,” Cutler said, to helping with coverages and plays in meetings.
“He’s always trying to push the envelope,” Cutler said. “Change things and tweak things around, which I think’s been great for us.”
Some of what Cutler learned from McCown is being passed on to the new backup.
“Patience and just trying to do things the right way each and every day, not getting lost in the details — I think those are things that Josh did a great job as whenever he was here,” Cutler said.
“I try to emulate those things for Jimmy, and every day when we come in and have quarterback meetings and being on top of my stuff — knowing exactly what the game plan is — so whenever he’s in there, that’s how he’s got to do it as well.”