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Josh McCown provides unprecedented play, numbers for Browns

BALTIMORE -- Josh McCown spoke during his postgame news conference on Sunday when he uttered a statement summing up his tenure as a professional quarterback.

“This is my 14th year professionally, 13th year in the NFL. … I played in the UFL for crying out loud,” he said.

Which sums up where McCown has been, and more importantly, where he is as he guides the Cleveland Browns' offense. This veteran has seen so much it’s hard to imagine anything happening that he hasn’t seen.

But that’s what has happened.

McCown has done things no Browns quarterback has done. Even the most optimistic of types could not have expected what McCown has provided as a 36-year-old on his seventh team.

  • In Sunday’s 33-30 overtime win over Baltimore, McCown threw for 457 yards, a team record.

  • In the past three games, he has thrown for 1,154 yards, another team record.

  • He also became the first Browns quarterback to throw for 300 or more yards in three consecutive games.

“When you’re done playing, that’s cool stuff that you can look back on and be proud of,” McCown said. “For me there’s other things that I want to be the first Browns quarterback to do, and that involves stuff with our team.”

Against the Ravens, McCown was the Browns' offense. Just like he was against San Diego, and just like he was against Oakland. The team that was going to run the ball and have McCown play smart and safe has morphed each game into a pass-happy, throw-it-all-over offense.

The past three weeks, McCown has thrown 141 times; the Browns have run 60 times. The Pony Express this is not.

McCown said he knew Wednesday he’d be flinging it in Baltimore, but Joe Thomas said the Ravens' defense forced the offense to throw -- and it did so willingly.

“When we were in our base personnel with two backs and a tight end trying to run our outside zone [run] scheme, they were blitzing the crap out of it,” Thomas said. “They were doing everything they could to take that away.

“So we said screw it. We’re going to go three receivers. We’re going to spread them out. And we have a veteran quarterback that’s going to be able to read the defense, read the coverage, see where they’re coming from.

“If they’re going to try to blitz to take away our run game, he’s going to throw the ball to our jitterbugs on the outside or take the option and hit [Gary] Barnidge down the middle.

“It’s going to turn into a throwing game, and he’s able to get us in the right [play]. We give him the option to line up in shotgun and either hand it off if it’s a good look or throw it if it’s not a good look.”

Thomas said McCown was able to call what he wanted between run and pass on 90 percent of the team’s plays.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, McCown was 14-for-16 for 142 yards with a passing and running touchdown against the blitz. All of McCown’s TDs this season have come against the blitz.

This is exactly what the Browns wanted when they signed McCown, a veteran who could take care of the ball, who could run an offense, get the team in the right play and then take advantage of the defense’s weaknesses.

He was unaffected by falling behind the past two weeks and brought the Browns back to tie against San Diego, and to lead twice in the fourth quarter against Baltimore before winning in overtime. He nearly engineered a comeback against Oakland, too.

Even though the Browns have lost two of his three starts, they are getting quarterback play like they’ve -- literally -- never gotten.

It may not continue at this level, but the Browns do head to a home game against Denver with McCown averaging 47 passes and 385 yards in the three games he started since he returned from a concussion.

Those are some staggering numbers.

The Browns will take them, happily.