Luke McCown recently appeared in a commercial promoting Verizon’s new backup generators.
During it, he looks up at a tower with longing eyes and wonders how well it’d perform if it were ever called upon.
“I wonder, if they just had the chance, some of those backups could really shine,” he says.
The joke, of course, is that McCown has been buried on the Saints’ depth chart behind Drew Brees since coming to New Orleans.
All of his backups through the years have remained in the shadows. Brees hasn’t missed a game because of injury in nine seasons, but that streak could come to an end if Brees’ shoulder injury forces him to miss Sunday’s game at the Carolina Panthers.
If it does, McCown will get his chance to shine. The question is whether he’s ready to take advantage.
His career record as a starter will not build much confidence. McCown is 2-7 in games he has started, and his last turn did not go well. Playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011, McCown completed 6 of 19 passes for 59 yards with four interceptions as the Jaguars lost to the Jets 32-3. He also started the week prior, completing 17 of 24 passes for 175 yards in a 16-14 win over the Titans.
Overall, since appearing in his first game in 2004, McCown has played in 56 games. He has completed 184 of 317 passes for 2,035 yards with a quarterback rating of 68.3.
He joined the Saints in 2013 and has attempted one pass; it fell incomplete.
McCown was challenged by Ryan Griffin in each of the past two training camps but managed to fight him off and retain the job. He’s now playing ahead of 2015 third-round pick Garrett Grayson.
The 34-year-old put together a strong preseason during which he completed 68.6 percent of his passes for 323 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. With Brees only attempting 16 passes in the preseason, most of McCown’s snaps came against first-team defenses.
Griffin, who often faced second-team defenses, completed 58.5 percent of his passes for 264 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Tulane product was claimed off waivers by the Buccaneers after being released.
How McCown performs in a real game remains a mystery. He’s often lauded for his grasp on the offensive system, though it’s difficult to know how he’d perform against a live defense.
The hope for now is that it will remain a mystery. Early reports state that Brees’ ability to play will be determined by how he responds to treatment. It seems likely both Brees and the Saints will do everything they can to get him on the field Sunday.
But like backup generators, it’s more comforting to know they exist than to find out how they perform.