The Chicago Bears hired former Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant Jeremy Bates on Tuesday to coach their quarterbacks, reuniting him with Jay Cutler.
Bates was out of the league last season, but he worked well with Cutler as an assistant for three years in Denver. In Chicago, he will serve under new offensive coordinator Mike Tice.
Cutler had a strained relationship with former Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner during their lone season together in 2009 and took a beating at times the past two years in Mike Martz's system. But Bates played a key role in his development.
"His history with Jay was a big thing," coach Lovie Smith told the team's website. "And not just history with Jay but a good history, a productive history with him helping Jay as a quarterback."
Cutler said the Bears hired the right man.
"He was very vital in my growth and my experience as a quarterback (in Denver)," Cutler told the team's website. "The last couple years he had full control of my development and our plays coming in. He's a grinder. He's a guy that's going to work extremely hard to find weaknesses in defenses and he's going to be able to present it to us in a way that we understand and will be able to make plays where we can take advantage of those weaknesses."
Cutler enjoyed some his most productive seasons when they worked together from 2006 to 2008 in Denver. He threw for a franchise-record 4,526 yards in 2008 with Bates as his position coach and made the Pro Bowl, but there were big changes following that season.
Mike Shanahan got fired, and Cutler was traded to the Bears following a fallout with new coach Josh McDaniels.
Bates, meanwhile, bolted for Southern California and served as the Trojans' assistant head coach of the offense and quarterbacks coach in 2009. He left with coach Pete Carroll to become Seattle's offensive coordinator but was fired after the 2010 season. The Seahawks made the playoffs and lost to the Bears, but their offense ranked among the league's worst that year.
Bates, who also has been an assistant with Tampa Bay (2002-2004) and the New York Jets (2005), interviewed with Smith in Tampa last week. He then met with Tice at the team's headquarters.
The Bears also interviewed former Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Greg Olson.
"I did a lot of research and I think Jeremy is a perfect fit," Smith told the team's website. "Did we look at other guys? Yes, we did. Every time we have an opening, I look at everybody available. I even waited to see who would be available so I could see what the pool really looked like. Even though we had only brought in one guy (Olson), I had been talking to a lot of guys. But in the end, it was Jeremy by a landslide."