15 on 6: Cutler, Bates could form lethal duo

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15 on 6: Cutler, Bates could form lethal duo

I have mentioned new Bears quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates in previous blogs as a coach of interest for the Bears. Bates was an up-and-comer under Jon Gruden for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002 as an offensive quality-control coach. I liked him immediately.

Jay Cutler is correct in his assessment of Bates, when he said hes a grinder who loves football and is fiercely competitive. Do not let Jeremys age fool you. The tail will not wag the dog in Chicago. Bates is opinionated, knows what he wants offensively, and how he wants it executed. He is pure football.

If Im a Bears fan, I wouldnt get caught up in titles too much concerning why Bates wasnt hired as passing-game coordinator. That is all it is, a title. Bates and Cutler already have established lines of communication that will be rekindled from past success. Their history together will bode well. Bates knows Jays strengths and weaknesses and how to coach Jay to get the most out of him.

It is not like these two have to start from square one where youre trying to be open in a new relationship like Cutler was with Martz. They know where each other stands offensively and will look to hit the ground running by working to improve, rather than gloat on the past. Bates is demanding, gruff and doesnt mince words. There will be no gray areas that go uncoached.

Mike Tice and Bates do not have a background together other than being in the coaching fraternity. Bates will prove to be a valuable asset to Tice, because he is a coach who personally knows how to utilize Cutlers skills and will look to improve them. He will be a tremendous, valuable resource for Tice to tap and coincide with what he already knows about Jay.

Again, Bates and Cutler have history together. They can discuss plays, how they attacked defenses together, and much of that feedback will be implemented in current gameplans for the Bears passing attack. Cutler is far enough along to offer his opinion of what he likes and dislikes.

In terms of being one-and-done in Seattle, it relates more to Matt Hasselback than any failures by Bates. Hasellback had been in the west-coast Offense his entire career under Mike Holmgren. There were certain principles in the offense, I believe, Matt felt very strongly about over years of experience executing the system. Bates arrived in Seattle with his own set of beliefs in the system under Gruden and Mike Shanahans tutelage as well.

Yes, it is the same offense but areas of emphasis and how it is executed normally morph under whoever is calling the plays. Hence, the statement philosophical differences when Bates was relieved of his offensive play-calling duties, despite making the playoffs while in Seattle.

Lets all hope this doesnt end with Cutler screaming expletives captured on tape concerning the Bears new team effort offensively, rather than a one man greatest show on turf philosophy.

This is a good move for the Bears who could reap valuable rewards. Now, the Bears have to acquire the most important part for any so called passing game: playmakers who can catch!

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

On the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Chris Emma, Seth Gruen and Danny Ecker join David Kaplan to discuss the Mark Sanchez signing. Does this mean the Bears won't draft a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft? 

Later, the White Sox named Jose Quintana their Opening Day starter, but lose Carlos Rodon and Todd Frazier to injuries. 

Finally, Robin Lopez is back after serving a one-game suspension. The panel looks at the Bulls matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below. 

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

The tumult around the Bears quarterback position this offseason – signing Mike Glennon, cutting Jay Cutler, not signing Brian Hoyer, now signing Mark Sanchez – was to be expected. (Well, not all the brouhaha around Sanchez; if there has ever been more hyperventilating around the arriving backup quarterback, it’s escaping my recollections of a quarter-century on the beat.)

All of that, and a lot of the noise around Mike Glennon is really missing a larger point. A couple, really.

GM Ryan Pace established fixing the quarterback situation as a top priority, something it has been just about since Jim McMahon left, with the exception of a few Jay Cutler years. Doing that to any meaningful degree with the castoff options available in free agency or via trades wasn’t ever going to happen. What Pace has done with the quarterback situation, however, is more than a little intriguing.

The quarterback additions and subtractions, coupled with also suggest a draft plan far from locked in on a quarterback. The signings of Glennon and Sanchez don’t mean the Bears have solved their quarterback position, but it does mean the Bears have positioned themselves with the distinct option of NOT taking a quarterback – this year.

But here’s the bigger point.

Even with the optimum quarterback solution unavailable – Pace arguably did go best-available in his and the coaches’ minds with Glennon and Sanchez, all derision aside – Pace’s goal needs to be building a team that can reach a high playoff level regardless of quarterback.

Meaning: defense. And while the 2017 free agent and draft classes did not offer must-have quarterbacks in most evaluations, there are those elite-level defensive talents, and every indication is that the Bears will look there, in the draft, and should be. It had that feeling when the Bears, with ample, money to spend, backed away from day one free-agency runs at a couple of pricey defensive backs. The Bears simply think they can do better for less in the draft.

A perspective: With a defense at its levels during the Brian Urlacher era, the Bears could reach the NFC championship game with what they have at quarterback now. They did, twice, with Rex Grossman and with Cutler. Sanchez got to AFC championship games in each of his first two seasons. The Bears reached a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman as their quarterback. They went 13-3 in 2001 with a solid-but-unspectacular Jim Miller as their quarterback. They reached the 2005 playoffs with Kyle Orton as their starter most of that year, and should have been in the 2008 playoffs with him as well. The Bears reached the NFC championship game in 2010 with Cutler.

There is a common denominator in all of these situations, and it is within Pace’s grasp, and that was an elite defense. Rex Ryan had one with the Jets and Sanchez, Grossman and Orton and Cutler had theirs with Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Mike Brown, Tommie Harris, Charles Tillman, etc.

Forget the quarterback situation for now. Nothing anyone, including Pace, can really do anything about it (other than land possibly Deshaun Watson, based on their turnout at his Pro Day).

But if Pace and his personnel staff do this right, they can lay in the foundation for something elite on defense that will transcend the quarterback, or at least allow the Bears to play more than 16 games in a season even if they do not have a great quarterback. With the Urlacher core defense, the Bears went to postseasons with four different quarterbacks.

The prime directive now for Ryan Pace is to create precisely that model again.