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Josh McCown prepared to 'lead by example' whether he's starting or not


Josh McCown didn't shy away from the past whether it involved his personal performance or that of the franchise he joined just a few days ago.

The veteran quarterback just doesn't waste much time dwelling on it. His focus, whether it's on how he, the Browns or the team's young quarterbacks can be better than they were in 2014, is locked squarely on a 2015 season that is still more than six months away.

"No matter who joins us in that room or what that room looks like, the goal and my part at least is to help us come together and play good football," McCown said Monday on a conference call with local reporters. "It starts with me. As the veteran in there right now, it starts with me. I'm excited about that and I embrace that, and I look forward to helping that group play good football and going out and doing that myself, too."

At 35 and with 12 NFL seasons under his belt, McCown has plenty of experience as the veteran in the quarterbacks room.

During his three seasons with the Bears, he was a mentor to Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler. Last season with the Buccaneers, he worked closely with Mike Glennon, who at 25, is 10 years younger than McCown. If the Browns don't add to the group over the next few months, McCown will carry at least a 12-year advantage on Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw, both of whom are coming off their rookie seasons.

Make no mistake about it: McCown is already preparing and will continue to prepare as if he's the starter. But there's going to be more to his 13th season in the NFL than just how he performs on the field, and he can tap into that past to explain why he's up for the challenge.

"It's easy. You prepare," McCown said. "You've got to lead by example first and foremost. If you go out and do the things it takes to get yourself ready to play and on the way to doing that you sit in the room so much with the guys that hopefully some of the things that come up throughout the course of preparation and different conversations as you study, you can use some of that time to share some of your experiences and hopefully guys can benefit from it."

It's close to impossible to log exclusively positive experiences over a career as long as McCown's, and the quarterback was quick to say his past season with the Buccaneers "wasn't good enough." In his 11 starts, which were sandwiched around a five-game absence because of a thumb injury, McCown went 1-10 while throwing for 2,206 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He was released shortly before the NFL Combine.

There are some variables to consider when evaluating McCown's 2014 performance, but you won't hear him use them as excuses.

The Buccaneers' offensive line struggled from start to finish and was ranked 30th for their pass blocking by McCown was sacked 36 times. One week before the start of the season, Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford left the team after undergoing a coronary angioplasty, putting the offense in the hands of quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo. The Buccaneers ranked 30th in total offense.

"We just weren't good enough. I own my part of that, for sure," McCown said. "If anything, it just lights a fire to get that bad taste out of my mouth because that was not the way certainly I would have hoped to have planned for that season to go. I want to see it changed. Lord willing, I'll never be in that situation again, but I think, too, I'm better prepared if that does happen because I sure did learn a lot."

Even with McCown's arrival, the Browns' quarterback situation is not settled. Competition will drive the group, and, ultimately, the best option will lead the team into 2015.

The team's past at the position is well-documented, and McCown -- even as new as he is -- has been brought up to speed. He very well could be the latest new face to start at the position, but that's the last thing on his mind.

The quarterbacks of the Browns' present matter so much more to him than those of the past.

"If you just looked at it like that and just said 22 guys or whatever have been here before then it's just, 'Hey, let's pack up and go home because it's pointless,' but that is not my mindset," McCown said. "That is not my attitude. I want to attack this thing and do everything I can to change that and more than anything, help this team win football games."

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