Bears

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!

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

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USA TODAY

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd suffered an MCL and PCL injury and will have surgery in the next week, coach John Fox said, and the Bears do not have a timetable for his recovery yet. But that Floyd didn't suffer damage to his ACL is potentially good news for Floyd's recovery timetable. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve and out for the season, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot. 

Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?

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Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?

JJ Stankevitz and John “Moon” Mullin are joined by NBC Sports Philadelphia Eagles reporter Dave Zangaro to offer an encouraging connection between Carson Wentz’s growth and that of Mitchell Trubisky.

Check out the entire podcast here: