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Four Downs: Age nothing but a number for Josh McCown, many NFL QBs

Welcome to Four Downs, a bi-weekly article that takes a deeper look at the storylines, matchups and anything else involving the Browns on their two days away from the field: Tuesday and Saturday.


1. Age nothing but a number at QB

Mike Pettine cracked a joke at the beginning of training camp after Josh McCown showed off some athleticism that caught a few onlookers off guard.

"When he took off running, we were joking with him that he's an older car but low mileage, kept in the garage, driven to church not a lot of mileage on it," the Browns head coach joked. "He's surprised me. He has kept himself in great shape over his career. It's a credit to him. He's a good athlete and he showed it today."

McCown is 36, the oldest Browns player by three years. When McCown began his NFL career in 2002, rookie running back Duke Johnson Jr. was 8 years old.

And at this age, McCown is arguably playing the best football of his career. Through the first quarter of the season, he's completing 66 percent of his passes for 746 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. His quarterback rating is 98.4, trailing only the 109.0 he had in five starts with the Bears in 2013.

"It is about decision making, timing and accuracy," offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said. "Those are the three things we want our quarterbacks to play with. They are not going to be perfect all the time, but we want them to be pretty darn close to perfect, as perfect as we can get. Absolutely, that is how I envisioned Josh playing."

Some like to joke the NFL stands for "not for long" because of how fast teams are willing to move on from veteran players when they can no longer perform at a high level. In 2015, this is clear at a lot of positions, but quarterback isn't one of them.

Take a glance at the top 10 quarterbacks based on rating. Three of the top four -- Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger -- have logged at least 11 seasons in the league. Carson Palmer, who ranks seventh, is 35, and No. 8 Philip Rivers, who showed the Browns what he's capable of last week, is 33. Matt Hasselbeck, who has led the Colts to consecutive victories while Andrew Luck deals with a shoulder injury, is 40. The Manning Bros., ages 39 and 34, are still doing their thing. Drew Brees (36) rebounded nicely from an early-season shoulder injury to lead New Orleans to its first win of the season last week against the Cowboys.

The "why" behind this could be for a variety of reasons, including a simple anomaly. A September article from the Wall Street Journal detailed an upcoming "quarterback crisis" because of the gulf between the demands of the position in the NFL compared to the evolution of spread offenses at the college level. Pettine was quoted in this article, saying "the quarterback may not be gone yet, but if you have one, protect it."

McCown is certainly among those benefitting from this trend, and the Browns hope he can continue to hang with his fellow elder statesmen as the season progresses.


2. Turbin leaving Seattle in the past

Winning has been the only thing Robert Turbin has known since he entered the NFL in 2012.

In his three seasons with the Seahawks, Turbin was part of a team that went 36-12 in the regular season, won Super Bowl XLVIII and came up a yard short in Super Bowl XLIX. When he arrived in Cleveland via a waiver claim, Turbin talked about how that winning background would help in his transition to a new locker room.

Now that he's on the verge of making his on-field Browns debut, Turbin is respectfully declining to discuss the three seasons before he landed in Cleveland. It's all about what he can do to make a Browns backfield that had its best day of the season last week in San Diego even better.

"I am a Cleveland Brown. The Browns are what I am all about now," Turbin said. "Seattle was a great opportunity for me. They drafted me and I was there. We had great success. I learned a lot from that team and what I have learned I know for a fact I can bring here to this situation to help turn this franchise around. Ultimately, at the end of the day, all I want to talk about is the Cleveland Browns and turning this franchise around and helping us win football games."


3. He said it

Tramon Williams' offsides call at the end of last week's loss to San Diego has been a major headline driver throughout the week. The veteran defensive back ultimately put it to bed Thursday as he stood by his locker, repeatedly saying "it doesn't matter."

Just don't mistake it for regret.

"I'll put it like this," Williams said. "I like to win, so if it comes down to me trying to make a play for our team to win I'm going to go for it."


4. Stat of the week

Through four games, the Browns are more than halfway toward their total of the 12 touchdown passes they had last season. McCown has four and Johnny Manziel has three, putting the Browns in a tie for 11th in the NFL in this category. The most in franchise history is the 33 Cleveland had in 14 games in 1966. The most since the team returned in 1999 is the 29 it had in 2007.

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