The top candidate for the New York Jets' offensive coordinator vacancy is Jeremy Bates, the team's quarterbacks coach, who has had drawn both praise and criticism in his polarizing career.
Once regarded as a young star in coaching, Bates flamed out in 2012, took a four-year hiatus (he spent part of it hiking the Rocky Mountains) and resurfaced last season with the Jets.
Coach Todd Bowles was impressed with Bates' work and might end up hiring him to replace John Morton, who was fired Wednesday. A scouting report on Bates:
Offensive system: Those who know him say Bates would probably install a West Coast-style passing game and a running scheme predicated on zone blocking -- similar to Morton's system.
"Just turn on the 2008 Mike Shanahan film," said Matt Hasselbeck, one of Bates' former quarterbacks and now a studio analyst for ESPN. "That's his vision for the offense he'd like to run."
He was referring to the '08 Denver Broncos, which ranked No. 2 in total offense. Those Denver teams were known for churning out 1,000-yard rushers, which appeals to Bowles, who has said the Jets didn't run the ball enough last season.
Distant Cousins: The quarterback-needy Jets are expected to have interest in Kirk Cousins, a potential free agent. He spent his first two seasons (2012 and 2013) playing for Shanahan with the Washington Redskins, so he'd be familiar with a Bates/Shanahan scheme. It's a bit of a stretch, but the Jets might think that could help them in a recruitment of Cousins.
Claim to fame: Bates was mentored by two bright offensive minds, Jon Gruden and Shanahan. He also was Jay Cutler's quarterbacks coach in 2008, his only Pro Bowl season. In a recent interview with ESPN.com, Shanahan called Bates a "very bright guy" and a "pretty special" coach. Bates' football intelligence never has been in question; some describe him as an X's and O's savant.
Biggest blemish on his résumé: In 2010, Bates followed Pete Carroll from Southern Cal to the Seattle Seahawks, but he lasted only one season as his offensive coordinator. Carroll, not known for having a quick hook, fired Bates with three years left on his contract. With Bates calling the plays, the Seahawks finished 28th in total offense and 31st in rushing. At the time, Carroll said he made the change because of "philosophical issues," saying "we saw things differently."
Coaching style: Bates is direct and brutally honest. Some people appreciate his candid approach; others are chafed by it. In Seattle, he was vocal in his support of Hasselbeck, who had an up-and-down year -- perhaps too vocal. Some believed it rubbed people the wrong way and might have contributed to his dismissal. Bates, only 34 at the time, had some maturity issues. That was eight years ago, and the Jets evidently believe he has outgrown them.
Play calling: There are many facets to the coordinator job, but the biggest responsibility is calling plays. Hasselbeck said he liked Bates as a playcaller, saying, "He's very fiery. He has kind of a temper. There's an aggressiveness to him during the week, but on game day he's very calm, very poised. It's really remarkable. It's night and day. Usually it's the other way around with coaches. They're laid back during the week, then on Sunday they act like they're hyped up on Red Bull. Jeremy is the opposite."
Final verdict: Hasselbeck spoke glowingly of Bates' football acumen and playcalling ability. Asked whether he'd be a good coordinator for the Jets, Hasselbeck said "it depends" on the rest of the offensive staff, meaning he believes coaches need to be compatible. As he said, "You have to put the pieces of the puzzle together."