Quarterback Jay Cutler will have his third offensive coordinator in four seasons with the Bears, but this transition could be the smoothest yet.
Offensive coordinator Mike Tice was promoted from within, so Cutler won’t have to learn new terminology, and he’ll work with someone who’s familiar with the personnel and one of the team’s biggest concerns: the offensive line.
Unlike Mike Martz, Tice will pay more attention to matchups, providing linemen with more help, if necessary.
And new quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates is someone with whom Cutler also is very familiar. Bates was on the Denver Broncos’ coaching staff from 2006 to 2008. And in that last season, when Cutler played in the Pro Bowl, Bates was the quarterbacks coach.
“I’m very excited to be working with Jeremy Bates again,” Cutler told ChicagoBears.com on 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 of years, he had full control of my development and our plays coming in.”
But Bates has had some alarming results since the two separated.
Pete Carroll hired Bates as the assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach at USC, and he took him to Seattle and named him the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator. But the Seahawks’ offense was woeful, ranking 28th overall and 31st in rushing in 2010. After the season, Bates was fired because of a difference in philosophy.
According to a league source, Bates has a fiery temper.
He didn’t work in 2011.
Curiously, the Bears were interested in at least interviewing Bates in 2010 before hiring Martz. But Bates opted to skip an interview and accept Carroll’s offer to join him in Seattle.
Coach Lovie Smith told the team’s website that the history between Bates and Cutler was “a big thing.”
That was apparent after Smith initially requested permission to speak to Dowell Loggains, someone else who’s familiar with Cutler.
He worked with him at Vanderbilt and is the quarterbacks coach for the Tennessee Titans, but the Titans denied the Bears permission to speak with him.
At that time, the Bears were planning to hire a quarterbacks coach who also would serve as the passing-game coordinator. But Bates’ only title is quarterbacks coach, which means Tice will have full responsibility as offensive coordinator.
The Bears also interviewed Alex Van Pelt and Greg Olson, but Smith insisted Bates was his man.
“I did a lot of research, and I think Jeremy is a perfect fit,” Smith told the team website.
“Did we look at other guys? Yes, we did. Every time we have an opening, I look at everybody available.
“But in the end, it was Jeremy by a landslide.”
In 2006, Bates was an offensive assistant, but he worked his way up to quarterbacks coach by 2008.
That season, Cutler was voted to the Pro Bowl and set Broncos passing records for completions (384), attempts (616) and yards (4,526). The offense ranked second in the NFL.
The Bears are hoping that reuniting Cutler with Bates will yield similar results.