Packers Hero Named Bears' QB

Remember Josh McCown? The Bears have moved onto Plan C at quarterback, with McCown replacing struggling Caleb Hanie. That and more from Wednesday as the Packers got to work for the Christmas night game against Chicago.

On Dec. 28, 2003, Josh McCown made one of the greatest plays in Green Bay Packers history while quarterbacking the Arizona Cardinals.

His 28-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Poole as time expired gave the Cardinals an 18-17 victory over the Vikings. Lambeau Field erupted, with the Packers' victory over Denver that day combined with Minnesota's loss handing Green Bay the NFC North title.

Almost eight years later, McCown will be quarterbacking the Chicago Bears on Christmas night against Green Bay. McCown was named the Bears' starter on Wednesday, in the wake of a disastrous four-game losing streak since Caleb Hanie had replaced injured starter Jay Cutler.

"I know from his experience, just common people that have coached him, his experience in Tampa, (that McCown is an) exceptional athlete, can make a lot of plays with his feet, good arm," coach Mike McCarthy said. "But it's more focused not just on him but how they're going to use him, like we went through last week with Kyle Orton. You've got to do some projection and look at the big picture and how they've been playing of late, schematically and conceptually and how he fits into that."

McCown, the Cardinals' third-round pick in 2002, has started 31 games in his career but none since going 2-7 as the Raiders' No. 1 quarterback in 2007. For his career, he's 12-19. Statistically, he's completed 57.6 percent of his passes with 35 touchdowns and 41 interceptions. Only once, in 2004, when he threw 11 touchdowns against 10 interceptions, has he thrown more touchdowns than interceptions.

"We felt like we needed a change," Bears coach Lovie Smith said during a conference call with Packers beat reporters on Wednesday. "Someone to give us a little bit of a spark. Josh has been around for a while. He's done a good job of what we've asked him to do. He's been in our offensive system before. It's time for us to make a move, so we went with him."

Cutler broke the thumb on his passing hand in the Week 10 victory over San Diego. In the next four games, with Hanie at quarterback, the Bears scored 47 points. It's not at all what the Bears had in mind after he sparked the Bears in the NFC Championship Game against Green Bay. In relief of an injured Cutler, Hanie completed 13-of-20 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown, but he threw two interceptions – a pick-six to B.J. Raji and one to Sam Shields to kill the Bears' chances of forcing overtime.

"Don't know," Smith said when asked what had gone wrong with Hanie. "I don't have a whole lot of time to figure that out. We've moved on now."

Talking playoffs

The Packers would clinch homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win on Sunday or a San Francisco loss at Seattle on Saturday.

Things are much more dire for Chicago, so the move to McCown might be too late. The Bears are two games behind the Falcons and Lions (both 9-7) for the wild-card spots. The Bears must win both of their games and have either the Falcons or Lions lose both of their games and the Seahawks (7-7) lose at least one game to make the playoffs. The Lions host the Chargers on Saturday and the Falcons play at New Orleans on Monday night.

Packers injury report

Out: RT Bryan Bulaga (knee), WR Greg Jennings (knee). Did not participate: DE Ryan Pickett (concussion). Limited: LB Desmond Bishop (calf); LT Chad Clifton (hamstring/back); DE Mike Neal (shoulder); RB Brandon Saine (concussion).

This was Clifton's first time on the playing field since injuring his hamstring against Atlanta in Week 5. McCarthy didn't watch Clifton enough to say how his Pro Bowl left tackle looked. Could he potentially play with just three practices?

"We're not there yet," McCarthy said. "He's progressing, and there's a plan in place for him and as long as he keeps moving forward we'll see what happens."

According to the coach, Bishop "definitely" has a chance to play after practicing for the first time since the injury on Thanksgiving at Detroit. Pickett is "moving forward" in the concussion protocol while Neal's injury is different than the one that ended his rookie season.

Bears injury report

Did not participate: RB Marion Barber (calf); LB Lance Briggs (ankle); QB Jay Cutler (right thumb); TE Kellen Davis (back); RB Matt Forte (knee); WR Devin Hester (ankle); DT Henry Melton (shin); DE Julius Peppers (not injury related).

Four-point stance

-- McCarthy said Rodgers is deserving of being The Associated Press' Male Athlete of the Year, which he won on Wednesday, as well as being named league MVP. The MVP vote won't be released until before the Super Bowl. Said Rodgers: "I'm very honored to receive that award. Obviously, got to thank my teammates, coaches, the organization for believing in me in 2005 and picking me. It's been a great run for all of us, we're really proud."

-- Typically, the team meets at the hotel for about an hour on the Saturday night before a game. With Saturday being Christmas Eve and Sunday being Christmas, McCarthy said the typical Saturday night work would be moved to Sunday evening. "The players will be home on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with their families, which we feel very strong that it's the right thing to do. Anybody that's in tune with the scheduling of Sunday night games and Monday night games, there's a lot of down time, a lot of waiting around for the players and coaches. Just the way this schedule fell with Christmas eve begin on Saturday, Christmas on Sunday and with it being a night game at home, I think this schedule really falls favorably both personally and professionally for what we need to do to win this game."

-- The players and coaches did their voting for the NFC Pro Bowl team on Wednesday. The 43-man squads will be announced on Dec. 27.

With the fan vote closed, Rodgers finished as the top vote-getter with 1.582 million votes, ahead of Tom Brady (1.454 million), Drew Brees (1.189 million), Calvin Johnson (1.134 million) and Wes Welker (1.134 million).

Rodgers, fullback John Kuhn, tackle Chad Clifton, guard T.J. Lang, center Scott Wells, cornerback Charles Woodson, safety Morgan Burnett, kicker Mason Crosby and special-teamer Jarrett Bush won their respective positions in the NFC vote.

The fan, player and coach vote each count one-third toward the final selections.

-- One final thing from last week, from the NFL: The Packers' 15-game regular-season winning streak was snapped last week by the Chiefs and interim coach Romeo Crennel. That's the longest winning streak ended by a coach in his NFL debut for a team. The previous record was by Paul Brown's Browns against the Eagles – who had won the final eight games in 1949 – in Cleveland's inaugural game in 1950.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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