clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Josh McCown Scouting Report

What does new Browns quarterback Josh McCown bring to the team?

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

When he has time, McCown consistently shows sound throwing mechanics resulting in good ball placement. Here he connects on a crossing route.


He leads his tight end, who catches the pass in stride and picks up extra yardage.


McCown shows good ball placement on a slant, hitting the receiver in stride so he can run after the catch.


Good ball placement and timing on a hitch route:


McCown exhibits nice timing and placement on this whip route.


Same play, different angle. McCown leads the TE right out of his break on a whip route.


He has familiarity with the kind of WR screens that the Browns ran last year:


McCown throws a very good jump ball, putting air under the pass so his receiver can compete for it. Then it's up to the WR to make the play.


Has good accuracy on his deep ball. This is what his underthrows typically look like, short by a yard or two.


McCown's deep accuracy also produces a good number of these, hitting his man in stride deep downfield.


His mechanics hold up well rolling to his right, letting him throw a strike to the sideline.


McCown shows trust and anticipation, throwing this pass before his receiver breaks. The throw sails high but the great timing beats the CB.


McCown displays the anticipation and arm strength to execute a textbook throw on a hitch route.


He shows his adequate though unspectacular arm strength on this out route. Doesn't have the power to keep the ball low on these.


McCown correctly reads the Cover 2 safety and puts enough velocity on the ball to beat him along the deep sideline.


Does a nice job reading the linebackers' zone coverage, hitting the tight end when they jump on the wideout's underneath route.


The WILL linebacker crosses all the way to the strong side and McCown mistakenly thinks he can beat his underneath coverage.


McCown fails to anticipate the linebacker jumping this slant.


He steps up in the pocket to avoid the rush and completes an underneath throw under pressure.


Very bad decision under pressure here. McCown needs to protect the football. Taking the sack would've been smart.


Awful decision under pressure by McCown, throwing back across the field.


McCown under pressure. INT. High risk/low reward trying to complete this pass.



Josh McCown exhibits well-developed technique for the position. Consistently displays sound throwing mechanics from head-to-toe, with the whole of his body working in concert through the throwing motion.

Cognizant of his movement and body position and adjusts accordingly. This includes re-setting his feet as well as turning his upper and lower body to face his target.

Technique is second nature and does not break down due to accident or oversight. However, McCown willfully abandons proper throwing mechanics when rushed and eager to make a play.


Josh McCown can make all the throws, but only has average arm strength. He can put some zip on intermediate passes but the raw power is lacking on some of the tougher throws. This is especially apparent on the deep comeback, as his ball often sails high on him rather than being a crisp cannon shot low and to the outside.

Don't mistake this for a limited vertical game, as McCown has both touch and accuracy on his deep ball and is able to vary the trajectory from a lob to a flatter, sharper throw as needed.

McCown also brings underrated scrambling ability to the table. Upon entering the league, he was a sub-4.6 guy and despite his age this is still apparent. While he may have lost a half step, he is a threat to make plays both as a runner and as a scrambler looking to pass.


Josh McCown shows good awareness of the timing of his routes and is comfortable throwing to where his receivers will be, rather than waiting for them to come out of their breaks.

McCown identifies coverages well pre-snap and knows where he wants to go with the football.

Post-snap comes down to what he saw pre-snap: He can be fooled if the defense is able to disguise the coverage well enough to sell him on it pre-snap.


Continuing on the subject of post-snap awareness, Josh McCown has a tendency to identify what he wants pre-snap and go after it. In cases where the defense changes post-snap, he shows stubbornness in still trying to hit that target.

Don't mistake my meaning here, he does not stare down his receivers and telegraph the play or fail to go through progressions. McCown often makes reads post-snap and goes through progressions to find the open man. On plays where he identifies an open receiver or great matchup pre-snap, however, he does often lock on and even forces throws when the defense changes the coverage on him.

McCown is over-eager to make plays and often takes huge risks under pressure. He doesn't protect the football and is often reckless in the face of a pass rush.

In a vacuum, with no pass rush, he can easily pick a defense apart. Rush him and he self-destructs.

Scheme Fit

Josh McCown has spent the past two seasons in vertical offenses, with many of his throws not directly translating to a West Coast Offense. Over that time, though, he has thrown a high number of slants and some deeper hitches and crossing routes, as well as receiver screens.

He has had much fewer reps with the other West Coast Offense staples, such as short hitches, shallow crosses, whip routes, speed outs, and the like. In his reps with WCO staples, he has consistently shown good anticipation, timing, and ball placement.

McCown also has an accurate deep ball and the ability to hit receivers in stride downfield that projects well for the Browns' play action package.

He also has nice touch and placement on jump balls, though the Browns do not currently have a receiver or tight end that excels in that area.


McCown's arm strength is average. Other than that, he has everything you could ask for from a physical and technical standpoint. His anticipation and ability to lead receivers could be a weapon in the Browns offense. His deep ball accuracy could be a phenomenal asset.

His awareness is good but not great.

The pass rush absolutely destroys him. For the Browns to have success with Josh McCown at quarterback, they must give him excellent pass protection. If he gets pressured, he'll make bad decisions and turn over the ball.

His 2014 season in Tampa Bay was, to some degree, a perfect storm. He is highly susceptible to pressure, the Buccaneers ran a vertical offense with many slow-developing plays, and they had the worst offensive line depth chart in the NFL.

To maximize McCown's effectiveness, I recommend that the Browns:

  • Run the ball.

Oh, did you think I was going to have some other points? No, sorry.

Joking aside, the Browns could help McCown by running the ball a lot, showing a variety of play action looks, and moving players around to create clear matchup advantages. Also, run a high number of fast-developing timing routes to take advantage of his anticipation and ball placement skills while getting the ball out of his hands quickly.