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Josh McCown respects Trestman, is loved by former teammates

TAMPA, Fla. — Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown’s best game was his last start for the Bears. He torched the Cowboys for five total touchdowns and a 141.9 passer rating on a frigid December night in Chicago.

“I just remember I was thinking that I had to keep my hands warm,” McCown said Wednesday. “Everything else went numb.”

But McCown doesn’t forget the impact that Bears coach Marc Trestman had on his career in 2013, his first and only season with him. That’s why he’s surprised and bothered by all the recent criticism directed at Trestman.

“I don’t know how people could criticize him if you’re not in the meeting room,” McCown said. “But from my time there, I respected him. I thought his approach was the right way to do it because it was a consistent message of who he wanted the team to be, day in and day out, not unlike Lovie [Smith] and his approach. I really respect both of them.”

In his own way, McCown still is revered at Halas Hall. He remains close with quarterback Jay Cutler but also was a bridge between offense and defense. Cornerback Charles Tillman called him one of his top five teammates of all time, and he’s not alone in those sentiments.

“Love the guy,” linebacker Lance Briggs said. “He was one of my favorite guys to be around last year and over the last couple of years. He’s just so engaging.

“I could be having a bad day sitting down at lunch, and he would sit down eating his lunch and just start asking me random questions about life, maybe about football. . . . It would really get you out of your way and get you talking.”

But McCown is the Bucs’ engaging, stay-late-and-prepare guy now and the Bears’ problem on Sunday. Injuries and a new team haven’t led to instant success, but he just had his best game, completing 15 of 23 passes for 288 yards, two touchdowns and a 137.5 passer rating in a 27-7 victory against the Redskins.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kGrDds0lhI&w=560&h=315]

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker might be shrugging off McCown’s past experiences with the Bears, but there is something to be said for that inside information.

“Just personnel-wise, having practiced against them,” McCown said, “you have a good feel for some of their tendencies and some of their body language and things like that.

“I’ll talk to our guys about different guys, but they’ve got some new faces over there, too, that I don’t know.”

McCown said again that he’s thankful for his time in Chicago and that he knew his place at Halas Hall despite his own success with Trestman.

“I understood our situation and the dynamic with where they were at as an organization with Jay,” McCown said. “From the first day that I got there, it was all about helping Jay play at the best level he could play at, and that never changed.”

But McCown’s run with Trestman did change things for him — and not just because of his two-year, $10 million deal with the Bucs.

“More than anything, [it was] just how he cares about the guys in the locker room, and that also strikes a huge chord with me because we are people,” McCown said. “This is a relationship business.

“It’s about winning, but every day, you spend a lot of time with 53 other guys or however many when you start adding equipment managers and so on. I believe Marc genuinely cares about those people around him, and I appreciate that.”

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns