Preps Talk

Bates-Cutler reunion doesn't guarantee good things for Bears

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Bates-Cutler reunion doesn't guarantee good things for Bears

When Mike Martz was hired in 2010 as Bears offensive coordinator, the euphoria was palpable in some quarters. This was going to be the great leap forward for Jay Cutler and the Chicago offense.

It didnt prove to be entirely the case. The Bears were the No. 6 scoring offense when Cutler went down with his broken thumb. But the greatest leaps forward over the past two seasons followed when coach Lovie Smith gave then-OL coach Mike Tice a greater voice in the game planning.

Tice was elevated to coordinator and Jeremy Bates brought in as quarterbacks coach, without the designation of passing-game coordinator. The positive buzz began again because Bates coached Cutler with the Denver Broncos in the quarterbacks first three NFL seasons.

Its a big advantage for us, coach Lovie Smith said during last weekend's rookie minicamp. When I was looking at filling the position, I took all of that into consideration. Jeremy has a background, has a history.

But not all the Bates history is good. The rejoicing that some accorded the hiring of Martz and what it would mean for Cutlers development was premature. Any celebration of Bates arrival simply because he was in Cutlers ear during the 2006-08 seasons should be put on hold as well.

Reality check

This is not to say that Bates, a position coach, cannot emerge as a major positive force in a passing game built around and on Cutler.

But the stark reality is that Bates needs to produce better results than he has at any previous time in his NFL career. Otherwise his addition to the staff may end up in the MartzTurnerHamilton file.

Since becoming a position coach with Tampa Bay in 2004, Bates has coached on only one winning NFL team (the 9-7 Denver team in 2006, Cutlers rookie season). That team did not reach the playoffs despite being 7-4 when Cutler replaced Jake Plummer as the starter.

Notably perhaps, that Denver offense was the most balanced, with a near 50-50 split between run and pass. The next two years saw Denver tilt increasingly toward throwing, at 56 percent in 2007 and 38 percent in 2008 when Bates was the chief play caller.

The 2008 team stood at 8-5 but lost the final three in a row with Cutler throwing 2 touchdown passes vs. 4 interceptions and posting three consecutive sub-75 ratings in that span.

Given Tices commitment to offensive balance and Bates relationship with Cutler, Bates buy-in to that philosophy looms as a pivotal mindset for 2012.

The only NFL team to make the playoffs was the 2010 Seattle Seahawks, which went 7-9 and fired Bates after the season ended with a playoff loss to the Bears. Bates, like Martz after his failed 2008 season with San Francisco, was out of football the following season.

We lost in the 10 playoffs, and Im just very fortunate to be with a great Bears staff and great ownership and some good players, Bates said.

Bates Cutler management

Bates role in molding Cutler warrants some particular scrutiny. Cutlers fundamentals were a target of Martz from the beginning and of critics within the NFL community who saw throws off the back foot and other flaws.

Not all of those could be blamed on Cutlers one year with Ron Turner and Pep Hamilton, since he didnt particularly listen to them anyway.

The operating principle now is that Cutler will listen to Bates.

We were together in Denver for three years, Bates said. I think hes got great talent. Hes a Pro Bowl quarterback. And Im excited to be with him.

The Bates-Cutler yarn ball is difficult to unravel and shouldnt be taken as an automatic positive any more than Cutlers seeming early endorsement of Martz was.

Cutler went to the Pro Bowl off his 2008 season. But Pro Bowl selections are questionable indicators, voted-on awards with fan input counting for one-third, not anything won on the field.

Indeed, Cutler was selected to the Pro Bowl despite a passer rating of 86.0. That rating, which measures passing, not winning or quarterbacking, was second only to Brett Favres 81.0 for the New York Jets that same year as the lowest for a Pro Bowl quarterback over the last six seasons.

The only Bowl that matters

The term of last six seasons was used only because that extends back through the 2006 season -- when the Bears went to a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman, who was hardly a Pro Bowl quarterback with his 73.9 rating but at least owns an NFC Championship ring. Cutler does not.

(Best guess is that given the choice of Bowl to make, Cutler chooses Super over Pro. If not, the Bears have a bigger problem.)

Hes still the same quarterback, Bates said. Has a great arm. I think the experience of any profession, or anything you do, the more times you do it you grow with it, both good and bad.

Hes definitely matured as a player, because hes had good games and bad games, and you get better every game. So the more experience and the more snaps, youre always going to get better at your craft.

For the Bears purposes, that needs to apply to both quarterback and coach.

Hes a good football coach, Smith said. I knew that before and I believe it even more now from seeing him work with our players. I think our guys will talk to you the same way about what hes brought to the table. So, pretty excited about that. He should help us.

NBC Sports Chicago to carry live coverage of the 2017 IHSA Football State Championships

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NBC Sports Chicago to carry live coverage of the 2017 IHSA Football State Championships

Network to televise LIVE coverage of this weekend’s Class 1A-8A IHSA Football State Championships from Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, IL

PLUS -- Live streaming coverage of EVERY IHSA Football State Championship telecast – including surrounding pre/postgame coverage – to be made available to authenticated subscribers on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive and via the NBC Sports app

NBCSportsChicago.com/Preps to air highlight packages of all games throughout the weekend;

“High School Lites” IHSA Football State Championships recap special to air Sat, Nov. 25 at 11:00 PM CT

Chicago, IL (November 20, 2017) -- For the seventh-straight year, NBC Sports Chicago, the home of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) State Championships, will be airing LIVE high-definition coverage of the 2017 IHSA Football State Championships on Friday, November 24 & Saturday, November 25 from Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, IL.  Illinois preps football fans can look forward to seeing every action-packed championship battle starting with the Class 1A contest on Friday morning at 10:00 AM CT, leading up to Saturday night’s highly-anticipated Class 8A match-up between two 13-0 powerhouses: Lincoln-Way East vs. Loyola Academy at 7:00 PM CT.  The 2017 IHSA Football State Championships will be produced by the IHSA & PlayOn! Sports.

In addition -- EVERY IHSA Football State Championship telecast on NBC Sports Chicago, including surrounding pre/postgame coverage, will be streamed LIVE on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive and will be made available via the NBC Sports app on tablets and smart phones.  Authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers can watch live IHSA Football State Championships action from anywhere in the United States.  The live streaming service is currently available to customers of Comcast/Xfinity, DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, Mediacom, RCN, WOW!, Time Warner Cable and Charter among numerous other carriers.  In addition, NBC Sports Chicago is also available on numerous digital streaming services including DIRECTV NOW, Hulu, fuboTV, Sling TV, CenturyLink Stream, PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV.  For a full list of carriers and more information about NBC Sports Chicago’s live streaming service, viewers are urged to visit nbcsportschicago.com/live-faq.

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • Friday’s Class 4A championship between Morris and Rochester (7:00 PM start), along with Saturday’s 7A championship featuring Prairie Ridge and Nazareth Academy (4:00 PM start) & the 8A championship between Lincoln-Way East and Loyola Academy (7:00 PM start) will all air live on NBC Sports Chicago+…NBC Sports Chicago+ is located on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 201 in the Chicago area and in South Bend, IN, and on ch. 285 in Comcast/Xfinity’s Peoria, Springfield, Rockford and Champaign markets…viewers are urged to visit NBCSportsChicago.com’s special “Channel Finder” section (http://www.nbcsports.com/chicago/channel-finder ) or IHSA.org for complete channel location details for ALL games throughout the state. 
  • Fans are also strongly urged to interact via Twitter throughout the entire weekend by utilizing the hashtag #IHSA to share their comments and showcase their school spirit for their favorite teams. 
     

In addition, NBCSportsChicago.com’s IHSA Preps section (NBCSportsChicago.com/Preps) will feature highlight packages from all games throughout the weekend, along with week-long coverage & scouting reports from veteran Illinois preps sports writer “Edgy Tim” O’Halloran (@EDGYTIM).  Plus – NBC Sports Chicago viewers can look forward to a special “IHSA Football Championships” wrap-up edition of High School Lites on Saturday, Nov. 25 live at 11:00 PM for a complete rundown of every championship game, including expanded highlights and player/coaches interviews.  From an additional social media standpoint, fans are urged to follow @NBCSPreps on Twitter throughout the weekend for up-to-the-minute 2017 IHSA Football State Championship news & game updates.

IHSA TV veteran Dave Bernhard (Class 3A, 4A, 7A & 8A) and Lee Hall (Class 1A & 2A) return in 2017 to bring viewers every thrill-packed play-by-play call, which will also include the first-year pxp call from Peoria Chiefs/college/preps broadcaster Nathan Baliva (Class 5A & 6A). Color analysis will be provided by renowned Chicago Bears/NFL expert Hub Arkush (Class 7A & 8A), along with former Illinois State University football standout  Chris Highland (Class 3A & 4A), Northern Illinois University football radio color analyst Mark Lindo (Class 5A & 6A) and longtime IHSA TV contributor/Illinois High School Coaches Association Hall of Famer Jack McInerney (Class 1A & 2A).

Sideline reports throughout the IHSA Football Championships weekend will be provided by NBC Sports Chicago’s Siera Santos (@SieraSantos) (Class 5A-8A on Saturday) and Comcast Network/CBS 2 sports anchor Camron Smith (Class 1A-4A on Friday). “Edgy Tim” O’Halloran will also provide studio analysis throughout the weekend recapping and previewing every championship match-up.

The following schedule details NBC Sports Chicago’s coverage (also streaming live to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive & the NBC Sports app) of the 2017 IHSA Football State Championships airing this Thanksgiving weekend (team records & play-by-play/color analyst/sideline reporting teams are in parentheses):

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24

10:00 AM – Class 1A: LENA-WINSLOW (Lena) [13-0] vs. TUSCOLA [13-0] (Lee Hall/Jack McInerney/Camron Smith)

1:00 PM – Class 2A: GIBSON CITY-MELVIN-SIBLEY (Gibson City) [13-0] vs. MAROA-FORSYTH (Maroa) [12-1] (Lee Hall/Jack McInerney/Camron Smith)

4:00 PM – Class 3A: IC CATHOLIC (Elmhurst) [12-1] vs. PLEASANT PLAINS [13-0] (Dave Bernhard/Chris Highland/Camron Smith)

7:00 PM – Class 4A: MORRIS [11-2] vs. ROCHESTER [13-0] (Dave Bernhard/Chris Highland/Camron Smith)

(NOTE: This game will air on NBC Sports Chicago+; please visit NBCSportsChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER  for the exact channel location in your area)

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25

10:00 AM – Class 5A: PHILLIPS (Chicago) [13-0] vs. DUNLAP [13-0] (Nathan Baliva/Mark Lindo/Siera Santos)

1:00 PM – Class 6A: PRAIRIE RIDGE (Crystal Lake) [13-0] vs. NAZARETH ACADEMY (LaGrange Park) [12-1] (Nathan Baliva/Mark Lindo/Siera Santos)

4:00 PM – Class 7A: BATAVIA [12-1] vs. LAKE ZURICH [13-0] (Dave Bernhard/Hub Arkush/Siera Santos)

(NOTE: This game will air on NBC Sports Chicago+; please visit NBCSportsChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER   for the exact channel location in your area)

7:00 PM – Class 8A: LINCOLN-WAY East (Frankfort) [13-0] vs. LOYOLA ACADEMY (Wilmette) [12-1] (Dave Bernhard/Hub Arkush/Siera Santos)

(NOTE: This game will air on NBC Sports Chicago+; please visit NBCSportsChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER   for the exact channel location in your area)

Watch: Kris Bryant discovers that no one in Austria knows who Kris Bryant is

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RED BULL

Watch: Kris Bryant discovers that no one in Austria knows who Kris Bryant is

Baseball is America's favorite pastime. Not so much for the nations of Europe, however.

Kris Bryant, the Cubs' star third baseman and one of baseball's biggest names, took a trip across the Atlantic for his honeymoon and discovered that he's not quite as famous in the Old World as he is stateside.

Red Bull posted this video of Bryant interviewing locals in Salzburg, Austria, locals who aren't very familiar with baseball — or Bryant.

Bryant and his wife, Jessica, also got to wear lederhosen and visit a castle, getting the full Austrian experience.

So maybe Bryant isn't the most recognizable guy in Austria. If he's ever looking for reaffirmation of his popularity, though, all he has to do is walk the streets of Wrigleyville. Guessing there will be a few more people there who know his name.