More than a month after the Chicago Bears released former quarterbacks coach Shane Day, the team finally found his replacement. Today the team named Jeremy Bates as the new QB coach in the Windy City.
Bates worked with Jay Cutler when the two were together in Denver from 2006-2008. He served as an offensive assistant in 2006, wide receivers/quarterbacks coach in 2007 and quarterbacks coach in 2008.
Bates called the plays for the Broncos in 2008, when Cutler threw for a franchise record 4,526 yards with an 86.0 passer rating, earning him a trip to the Pro Bowl. That season, Denver ranked first in the AFC, and second in the league, in total offense. The team averaged 279.4 passing yards per game (third in the NFL) and 23.1 points per contest.
Because of their success together in the past, Cutler lobbied for Bates from the moment Day was fired.
"I'm very excited to be working with Jeremy Bates again," Cutler told ChicagoBears.com Tuesday. "We got the right guy for the job.
"He was very vital in my growth and my experience as a quarterback [in Denver]. The last couple years he had full control of my development and our plays coming in."
Lovie Smith, who is solely in charge of selecting his assistant coaches, said hiring Bates was an easy decision.
"I did a lot of research and I think Jeremy is a perfect fit," Smith said on the team's Web site. "I had been talking to a lot of guys. But in the end, it was Jeremy by a landslide."
Smith said the past history between Bates and Cutler played a huge role in his decision.
"His history with Jay was a big thing," said Smith. "And not just history with Jay but a good history, a productive history with him helping Jay as a quarterback."
"The one year he was a coordinator [in Seattle], he led their team to a division title," said Smith.
Yet that division title was with a team that went just 7-9, the worst record by a division winner in NFL history. During that season, the Seahawks were 28th in total yards, 31st in rush yards, 19th in pass yards and 22nd in third-down efficiency. Bates was fired after the season due to "philosophical differences" and could not find work in the NFL in 2011.
When the Bears announced Day's release, the team said his replacement would hold the dual title of QB coach and passing coach. Yet the club chose not to give Bates the passing coach designation. Still, Bates will be instrumental in developing Chicago's aerial attack in tandem with coordinator Mike Tice.
Bates comes off a year where he did not coach in the NFL, yet he was a play caller for the previous three seasons, which should serve him well in his new role.
Yet it was his experience working with Cutler that ultimately earned him the position. The Bears are hoping that the two can rekindle the fire they developed in Denver. As coordinator of the Broncos in 2008, Bates called just 387 runs (27th in the league) compared to 620 passes (3rd in the NFL).
With Tice in charge, the Bears won't be as inclined to air it out, but it appears Bates knows how to get the most out of Cutler in the passing game. In his two seasons working directly with Bates, Cutler threw for the two highest completion percentages of his career – 63.6 percent and 62.3 percent in 2007 and 2008 respectively.
Cutler's completion percentage fell to 58.0 percent under Martz and Day last season. Bates will help get those numbers up and should be able to improve his quarterback's all-around game.
This was a good hire by the organization; one that could pay significant dividends down the line. One thing is for sure: Cutler is happy, and a happy QB is usually a productive QB.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.