How on Earth did Josh McCown just do that?


After two series, Josh McCown was probably wondering if he should have stayed retired.

“If I was our coach, I would have benched me,” McCown said.

He fumbled his first snap, then threw incomplete on his first three passes. Then got sacked.

“It’s kind of like an old ’79 Chevy,” McCown said. “It takes a while to get cranked up, and then you get going. I hate how I started, but I finally got some things going.”

After the slow start Thursday night in the Eagles' preseason loss to the Ravens at the Linc — understandable, considering he was retired a week ago — McCown went 17-for-21 for 192 yards with two touchdown passes in his Eagles debut.

It was a remarkable performance after three practices. He admitted he still doesn’t know everybody’s name. But he sure knew how to get them the football.

You know the thing is when you start 0-for-whatever we were, 2, 3, 4, it’s just get a completion,” the 40-year-old said. “That’s what this game is about. You stack some wins, get some completions, get some momentum, and so we did that. From there the guys made plays. We just had to settle in, myself included.

McCown led the Eagles on third-quarter touchdown drives of 52 and 84 yards, capping them with touchdown passes of 20 yards to JJ Arcega-Whiteside and 9 yards to tight end Alex Ellis.

At one point he completed nine consecutive passes.

I thought he did a really good job,” Doug Pederon said. “I had him just highlight plays he knew in four days and just called off of that. 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. It was all about the game plan. We didn't give him the whole playbook, but just wanted him to be comfortable with a few plays.

If anybody had any doubts about McCown’s ability to back up Carson Wentz until Nate Sudfeld gets back — or possibly beyond — McCown sure went a long way toward allaying those doubts.

We all kind of looked at it like an extended practice,” McCown said. “That’s how I took it. It’s another chance for me to call these new plays, get a look at them, run them, get to the line of scrimmage, and handle some things. I need as much work as I can get to get caught up to speed. Doug and Mike (Groh) were great with me this week. (Quarterbacks coach) Press Taylor was awesome just getting me ready and sitting me down and saying, ‘Hey, these are the things we are going to call. Only stuff you are comfortable with and you feel good with.’ We were actually able to get into a rhythm later.

It has to be surreal playing NFL football when you were retired a week earlier.

McCown was home in Charlotte coaching his son’s high school football team and doing some broadcasting work when he made the decision to join the Eagles.

It’s honestly hard to believe he could get here on Saturday and play at such a high level on Thursday.

But when you’re in your 18th year of pro football, anything’s possible.

“The dude’s a freaking gamer,” Zach Ertz said. “He played receiver in a game (for the Lions in 2006) and had (three) catches in a half. So whatever the coaches ask of him he’s going to do. It speaks volumes of the type of professional he is, and everything you heard about him is true. You heard he was a really good player and a really good pro, someone that everyone really respects, and that’s the vibe I’ve gotten from the three days he’s been here.” 

If all goes well, McCown won’t play a snap for the Eagles this year. If he has to, it looks like he’s still got some magic left in that 40-year-old arm.

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