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Pluto: Journeyman quarterback McCown silences critics in Cleveland
Pluto says the Browns needed a feel-good story and Josh McCown is a veteran with a lot of respect
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


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Amanda Rabinowitz
 
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The Cleveland Browns have a folk hero in journeyman quarterback Josh McCown. McCown set a new Cleveland-franchise passing record with 457 yards in last Sunday’s overtime win against Baltimore. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says McCown has been in the league 13 seasons with little success. He says not even McCown himself expected to be in the record books in Cleveland.
LISTEN: Terry Pluto talks about Browns journeyman quarterback Josh McCown

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Terry Pluto says McCown has been silencing his critics and providing a boost for a beleaguered team. Still, his brilliance was something nobody expected. 

"When you look at the honor roll of Brown’s quarterbacks, you have Brian Sipe, Otto Graham, Bernie Kosar and maybe Frank Ryan -- the last quarterback to win a title. But nobody saw Josh McCown passing them all."

In the record books
McCown is the first Cleveland quarterback to pass for more than 300 yards in three consecutive games. His record-setting day against Baltimore surpassed two Cleveland legends. 

1. Josh McCown, 457 yards, at Baltimore, Oct. 11, 2015

2. Brian Sipe, 444 yards, vs. Baltimore, Oct. 25, 1981

3. Bernie Kosar, 414 yards, vs. Pittsburgh, Nov. 23, 1986

"Part of it is that the game is more passing now. I’m sure if they’d let Otto Graham or Bernie Kosar pass as much as they’ve passed in the last few weeks, their numbers would have been bigger. But nonetheless, he was 36-years-old on the 4th of July. Five years ago, he couldn’t find an NFL team to take him."

Ups, but mostly downs
In 2010, McCown had a stint in the now-defunct United Football League. He played for the Hartford Colonials.

"He went to camp in summer of 2011 with the San Francisco 49ers, who cut him. In fact, he was cut by Carolina, Miami, Detroit and Arizona. For the last couple months of 2011, he was helping to coach his high school football team in Texas."

Then, the Chicago Bears called when they had two quarterbacks hurt. In 2013, McCown started started five games.

“The amazing thing was the numbers. In those five games, he threw 13 touchdown passes and one interception. In a three-game span, he threw for over 1,000 yards. [Starting quarterback] Jay Cutler came back and [McCown] went back to the bench.”

A contrast to 2014
Last season, McCown was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who went 1-10.

“It just shows you how people are so desperate for quarterbacks. After going 1-10 with a very bad team in Tampa, the Browns and Buffalo are bidding on Josh McCown. He had two options of places to go. The Browns offered more money, so he came to Cleveland with a two-year contract.”

“The thing is, when you’ve been cut as much as he has, you will do anything the team wants you to do. And so, they really liked that part of him. He gets a chance of play.”

Can he stay healthy?
Pluto says chances are, he won’t stay healthy at age 36. He missed the home opener after suffering a concussion on the first drive of the season against the New York Jets.

"He’s also had his hand stepped on – played through that. And after this big win, he limps off the field because he twisted his ankle."

Johnny's time is coming
Still, many fans are clamoring for Johnny Manziel to take the reigns at quarterback. Manziel is trying to make a comeback after a disastrous rookie season followed by a stint in rehab. He led the team to a win in its home opener when McCown was out with a concussion.

"Johnny better stay ready," Pluto says. "His time is coming. This is Cleveland. In four of the last five years, three different quarterbacks started games. It’s gonna come around to Johnny again."

"But in the meantime, a franchise that needed a little bit of a folk hero, a feel-good story" got it, "and [McCown's] got a lot of respect.”

Terry Pluto talks about Ohio State's odd quarterback combination
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