Barring injury, catastrophe or misalignment of the stars, he will open training camp as the starter and more than likely will open the season in New York under center.
The team is not committing to the season opener yet, of course, but the positives about McCown were evident in minicamp, where it was clear there is a large gap between him and Johnny Manziel. It showed in the way McCown threw the ball, led the offense and managed the new system. Manziel will be given his chance, but there is a gap to close.
McCown, though, will not say that the Browns are “his team.”
“It’s our team,” McCown said at minicamp. “That’s how I view it. That’s how I’m comfortable — when it’s our team.”
Make no mistake, McCown wants to start, but he’s not going to claim any more ownership than any other player. That attitude is the same one that allowed him to step back in Chicago when Jay Cutler returned from injury. At that time, he said he was the backup and Cutler was the starter -- even though McCown played his best football in that 2013 stretch.
“I said this when I signed,” McCown said. “When you’re here and when you’re on a team, whatever your capacity is, you serve your team the best way you can. If all 90 guys now -- 53 when we pick the team -- if all those guys do that, then you’ve got a chance.
“My opportunity here, as a starter, is to serve my team in that capacity.”
That attitude is one reason the Browns chose him. Nobody in the organization in private moments would say the Browns have their long-term quarterback answer.
But they will say they have a rare personality with unquestioned character.
“It’s just focus on playing the best football I can play because the role that I’m in demands that,” he said. “When you’re in a backup role or when a role is different, your focus day-to-day is a little different.”
What did McCown do in the offseason that helped the offense?
Left tackle Joe Thomas said McCown brought “sort of a calm and a comfort to the offense.”
Thomas said McCown has been excellent at recognizing defenses, making checks and throwing the ball accurately. After a stretch of short throws, McCown was getting the ball down the field at minicamp.
While it might seem the defense is at a disadvantage because it can’t rush or hit, Thomas said at this point of the progression, the offense is usually well behind where it is now -- and that’s with a new offense.
No games are won in June, of course, and running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery said he’s seen a lot of guys dubbed All Stars when they’re running around “in pajamas.”
So McCown still has to do it on the field, against live competition, in much tougher circumstances. But to this point things have progressed and McCown seems to have the respect of his teammates -- and that’s better than the alternative.
“For me right now, my focus is to play as good as football as I can play each day and help us grow as an offense,” McCown said. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”