Last season in Chicago, Bucs quarterback Josh McCown had an amazing run filling in for an injured Jay Cutler. McCown’s 13-touchdown, one-interception stretch in 2013 netted him a hefty paycheck (two-year, $10 million) and a reunion with head coach Lovie Smith last March two days after free agency opened.

2014 hasn’t been nearly as kind to McCown.

In his nine starts the journeyman has thrown 12 interceptions and lost four of nine fumbles on the season. In Sunday’s 19-17 loss to the Panthers McCown lost two of three fumbles, one of which set Carolina up inside the Bucs 10-yard line and led to a Panthers go-ahead touchdown.

McCown understands he has to be better.

“Just got to find a way to hold on to the ball better,” McCown said. “We had a screen going and I stepped up and I was going to dirt it at Chuck’s feet. I probably should have ate it. That’s the risk you run when you separate your hands to try to throw the ball away. It was unfortunate and hurt us. Hurt us bad.”

The Bucs offensive line, Oniel Cousins in particular, was abused on Tampa Bay’s first drive of the second half. And much like the Bears game, the wheels came off the bus and Tampa Bay never recovered.

Later in the game McCown was once again under pressure as the Bucs failed to pick up a blitz. The play was initially ruled an incomplete pass but Panthers head coach Ron Rivera challenged it, and the ruling on the field was overturned. McCown thought the first ruling by the officials was the correct one.

“I thought I threw it downfield,” McCown said. “I threw it forward an awfully long way. We had everything we wanted. We did everything protection-wise that we wanted to do. We had the matchup and Vince is screaming downfield. That’s going to be hard to watch on tape. That was going to be a big play. We probably would have scored. It would have been a big one. It would have been huge.”

“I thought my arm was going forward,” McCown continued. “I don’t understand how a ball goes that far downfield that way. He certainly didn’t push it forward. It went forward somehow.”

Smith agreed that McCown, or whoever is at quarterback, has to do a better job protecting the football.

“We’re always talking about securing the ball and you want the quarterback to, but it’s a lot more than the quarterback when he gets sacked,” Smith said. “That’s a big turning point in the game. The second half they had field position the entire time. You can’t have that. That was really the difference in the game.”

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Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]


  1. Mcclown might be the worst qb I’ve ever witnessed. He holds the ball around his waist like a rookie and has zero pocket awareness. The only reason he can be starting for us is Lovie wants to guarantee that first pick. I can’t see any other reason, the guy is absolutely terrible.

    • Totally agree. I’m rooting for the Bucs to look good, but ultimately lose every game at this point. If those loses come from McCown making bone-headed throws we’d be embarrassed to see a rookie make, that’s just fine with me since he won’t be starting next season.

  2. We will have the 2nd pick in the draft, not the first pick. This was our only chance to win for the rest of the season as both Green Bay and New Orleans have reasons that they must win.

  3. There’s just no getting around the fact that McCown is by far the worst starting QB in the league. If I’m Bryan Glazer, I’m just a tad furious at Licht and Lovie for convincing me to pay this guy $5,000,000 this season. I know the O-line is bad, but McCown makes them look even worse.

  4. I really don’t get sticking with McClown, unless Lovie really wants the #1 pick. Week, after week Lovie tells us Josh gives the team the best chance to win, yet we never win. All the stats point to Glennon being better, they’ve both only won one game. So at his presser when Lovie says Josh gives us the best chance to win, Mark, could you raise your hand and ask Lovie what he’s basing that on, cause it just isn’t true.

  5. Surferdudes; I agree. Mark ask him what is he saving Glennon for. We’re not going to get much for him if we trade him. Can we ind out for sure if he isn’t a back up QB or not. McCown sure isn’t and should be gone along with Keonon, Johnson, Gilkey, Goldson, Cousins, Collins, Clayborne, and about 10 other players. Include the Practice Squad too because if you haven’t called them up by now they are NFL player Squad.

  6. You’be heard of alligator arms? McCown has alligator hands. If you blow on them the ball will come out. He hardly gets touched and he fumbles. How many losses can be traced directly to points scored off of his turnovers. Keep that up for two more games and we will be guaranteed the first draft choice.

  7. I know that Lovie is loyal to a tee but enough is enough with McCown. He gives us the nest chance to win??? He is so indecisive in the pocket. Granted, Glennon may not be the long term answer and he is not as athletic but McCown is not getting it done, with or without pressure on him. We have huge receivers and he does give them many chances to win balls. If you dropped back 3 steps (All the time he has, barely) and lobs up a ball for Evans or Jackson, 8 out of 10 times, they are going to catch it. Josh said that he wants to play as long as he can help the team. He is not helping. Just let Glennon finish the season. Time for Josh to retire and be a quarterback coach or just be the backup for occasional duty. Such a shame after all the hype in the beginning.