Josh McCown didn’t get off to the best start in his first game with the Philadelphia Eagles, completely acceptable since he only was on the team for five days and participated in three practices. McCown looked every bit like a 40-year old quarterback coming out of retirement on his first five plays for the Eagles: fumble, incomplete pass, incomplete pass, incomplete pass, sack.
Easy to question the Eagles decision to bring in a player on a small sample size.
“It took me a little longer than I’d like. It’s kind of like an old ’79 Chevy; it takes a while to get cranked up and then you get going,” McCown said after the game.
McCown’s response? He completed 17-of-21 pass attempts for 192 passing yards and two touchdown passes to end the game, finishing with a 136.5 passer rating in his debut. The Eagles signed McCown last week to compete for the backup quarterback position with the injured Nate Sudfeld, giving him $2 million guaranteed to come out of retirement. He solidified the job Thursday night.
“I will just keep working and getting myself going,” McCown said. “That’s the key more than anything. I think with the first group there we kind of sputtered a little bit. I have to get on the same page and do a better job handling the first group and there’s a lot of things I need to work on. Like I said, hopefully catch up now and take a breath and dive back into the playbook and some of the nuances of it.”
The Eagles had questions regarding the backup quarterback position after Sudfeld went down with a broken left wrist in the first preseason game. Philadelphia gave Cody Kessler a shot, but he suffered a concussion on the first possession of the second preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Kessler injury prompted the Eagles to sign McCown to backup franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, who has missed eight games in the past two seasons.
It didn’t hurt that Eagles head coach Doug Pederson put McCown in the best possible position to succeed in his first NFL game back.
“The game plan, we just — I had him just highlight plays he knew in four days and just called off of that,” Pederson said. “He handled it extremely well, bounced back there in the third quarter and led two touchdown drives and kind of got us back in the game. So I was obviously pleased with the way he handled himself.
“We didn’t give him the whole playbook, but just wanted him to be comfortable with a few plays. My plan all along was to let him go two-plus quarters in this football game and kind of let him get his feet back into the game, and he did a nice job.”