On the same day they promoted Mike Tice to offensive coordinator, the Chicago Bears announced plans to hire a quarterbacks coach who would have elevated authority over the passing game. Upon hearing that description, many of us thought immediately of Jeremy Bates, the former offensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks who was quarterback Jay Cutler's position coach in 2007 and 2008 with the Denver Broncos.
Almost a month later, that's exactly where the Bears landed. Bates wasn't the first candidate the Bears spoke with, but ultimately he accepted their offer this week. The team announced him as their quarterbacks coach Tuesday, and it's clear his arrival will further minimize the transition that usually occurs when an offensive coordinator is replaced.
As we've discussed, Tice's preferred scheme shares the roots of the one the Bears played for the past two seasons under former coordinator Mike Martz. And Bates is clearly a favorite of Cutler, who reportedly lobbied for him to be hired as offensive coordinator in 2010 and continued to advocate for him on Twitter last month, calling him a "[g]reat guy and a great coach."
It remains to be seen whether Bates has a role beyond that of the traditional quarterbacks coach. Neither the press release announcing his arrival nor a story on the team's web site mentioned the anticipated dual title of "passing game coordinator," but Bates was the Broncos' primary play-caller in 2008 and performed the same role for the Seahawks in 2010.
Tice was expected to call plays regardless in 2012, but the original plan was to give the quarterbacks coach additional responsibilities in organizing the passing game while Tice focused on the offensive line and the running game. To be frank, I'm not sure how that arrangement would have worked and I wondered if the title was intended to attract a more experienced pool of candidates by making the job appear to be a quasi-coordinator role.
In the end, this will be Tice's offense, Cutler will be coached by an old friend and the Bears have succeeded in limiting the upheaval associated with employing their third new offensive coordinator in four years.