Ricky O'Donnell, Bobby Loesch and Z.W. Martin debate whether the Bears' new QB Coach, Jeremy Bates, will make any difference at all in their weekly roundtable, The Ballad of Ricky-Bobby and Z.W.
Every week we three kings of the SBN Chicago writing staff sit down and talk (email back-and-forth) sports. One of us will ask the other two some questions about the sports world around us. The other two will answer the best they can. We call it "The Ballad of Ricky-Bobby & Z.W." Yes, we stole the name from Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. This week we discuss the Bears' new hire and QB coach, Jeremy Bates. Get some.
Bobby Loesch (@bobbystompy):
So the Bears hired Jay Cutler's old* QB coach Jeremy Bates, and I, for one, am pretty happy about this move.
As a card carrying member of the "Everything Jay Cutler Wants Or Please GTFO" party, this decision is certain to appease me and all of my peers. Cutler himself? Also on board.
"I'm very excited to be working with Jeremy Bates again," Cutler said via the Bears' website. "We got the right guy for the job."
Did you feel the excitement? Because I did. Barely. (It is Jay we're talking about, after all).
Bears head coach Lovie Smith didn't shy away from the Cutler-Bates connection, either.
"His history with Jay was a big thing," coach Lovie Smith told the team's website. "And not just history with Jay but a good history, a productive history with him helping Jay as a quarterback.
Smith added he "did a lot of research"**, "but in the end, it was Jeremy by a landslide."
That's about as emphatic of an endorsement as you'll get from Lovie.
I might be painting with a broad brush when I say "Jay + Bates + Happy = Good", so I'm pretty curious as to what you two think about this move. Is it a match made in heaven? Too easy of a choice? Or do you -- gasp! -- think Jay shouldn't have this type of say when choosing a head coach? I'd imagine the counterargument against Bates might begin with something like "He also was throwing to Brandon Marshall," but I don't want to be presumptuous.
* - "old" as in "they have history together"...because the dude is only 35-years-old
** - this better not have been a veiled Google reference
Z.W. Martin (@ZWMartin):
I am not sure what Lovie means by "research," nor do I really care. Cutler's relationship with Shane Day -- poor, poor Shane Day -- and Mike Martz was shitty, at best. As far as I am concerned, anything is better than that. However, I am also a believer in a cohesive offensive plan. With this new offensive regime shaping up, that is out the window once again for our soon-to-be-dad.
Then again, like you, Bobby, I just want Jay to be happy, because a happy Jay means a not-throwing-26-picks-Jay. And, really, that is the best Jay. Lets just say I'm conflicted. 4,526 yards and 25 TDs sound nice, but I really don't think Jeremy Bates is exactly the cause of those numbers in Denver. Outside of the horrid 2009 season, Cutler has been extremely consistent, sitting in the 85-88.5 passer rating range in the three years sans-Bates. However, it will be cool to casually throwout "Bates-y" when referring to Jeremy, because that is a badass nickname.
On another note, this whole stupid fucking Passing Coordinator/QB Coach search just shows how far behind the Bears -- and really the NFL -- are behind baseball and hockey in establishing intelligent, stat-based and organized front offices. Man, when the Cubs and Blackhawks are the two best run franchises in Chicago, something must be amiss. This situation truly exemplifies how ahead of the curve Bobby's Patriots are from the rest of America's favorite league.
Ricky O'Donnell (@TUP_Ricky):
I have thoughts on this:
For Jay: If there's a decidedly "nice" thing about the hiring of Bates, it appears it would be that the Bears are finally treating Cutler the way he deserves to be treated: not as a LeBron-like czar with jurisdiction over the entire front office, but as a star with -- how else do you say it? -- "preferential treatment". That's the way it should be. For all the Bears had to give up to get Cutler in town, one would think the team would go above-and-beyond to put him in the best position to win. After not having a real quarterback for 50+ years, why not go all-out to give one with so many mouth-watering tools an optimal chance to succeed? That's what a forward-thinking franchise would have done, at least. Instead, the Bears have mostly held their breath hoping a few draft picks would pan out, or that Cutler would make his teammates better, as they sat on their cap space in free agency. They did not exhaust all options to make Cutler happy, and that is unarguable. Perhaps the hiring of Bates -- whom Cutler adored when they worked together in Denver -- is a sign the Bears are moving in that direction.
How the mighty have fallen: Jeremy Bates is no savior, and he won't ever be, not as a mere QB coach. The Bears were even too hung up on him to name him "passing game coordinator", and that isn't even a real thing. Three years ago, when Bates was deemed "the hottest young OC prospect in the game", I took to TUP and said Bates was too good for the typical Bears' bullshit. Now here we are, not many years later, and the Bears themselves think they're too good to even give Bates half of the offense. In that sense, Bates is hardly a knight in a shining armor -- his hiring actually signifies Chicago settling as much as anything else.
The Bears offered the "passing coordinator" gig -- it's even dumber when you type it out, try it sometime -- to former Bucs OC Greg Olson (not to be confused with G-Reg, of course), only to see him turn it down. They were also denied to opportunity to pitch Titans QB coach Dowell Loggains. So what, exactly, happened to tarnish the reputation of what was just a short time ago thought to be one of the sharpest young offensive minds in football?
Football is too complex to be this cut-and-dry, and it really can't be underestimated how much knowledge fans are robbed of without being able to watch from the vertical angle the coaches use for film study. Bates wasn't in the NFL last year, and we can only assume there's a perfectly good reason for that. He'll have to earn his former reputation back in Chicago, which is a nice position for the team to be in.
Still: everyone's looking for a culture change, even when they aren't. Bates isn't Theo, and I say that as genuinely as possible.