Top 5 ways Jeremy Bates will help the Jets win
By Steven Blush
It’s difficult to address the New York Jets 2018 offense without even knowing who’s the quarterback. But there are legitimate reasons to expect an upgrade under new coordinator Jeremy Bates.
Last season’s offense was offensive, ranked 28th of 32 teams, averaging just 18.6 points per game. First-time, one-and-done OC John Morton will likely never sniff such a lofty coaching position again.
New OC Jeremy Bates — last season’s QBs coach — has a compelling story. He was a member of the Mike Shanahan “coaching tree” that produced son Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay. Bates got fired in his only other OC position, after just one season with Pete Carroll‘s Seahawks in 2010. He then left football 2013-16 to “find himself.” In that time he did a five-month solo hike of the 2,900-mile Continental Divide Trail.
It was a bit troubling to witness the New York Jets braintrust’s satisfaction with 2017’s dismal five-win season, although that was largely inspired by the youth movement on the defensive side of the ball. But even that celebration feels premature, as to this date, none of this regime’s No. 1 draft picks — Leonard Williams, Darron Lee or Jamal Adams — are legitimate Pro Bowlers.
Bates may not have great offensive weapons (yet). But neither did Morton, Chan Gailey, Marty Mornhinweg, Tony Sparano, Brian Schottenheimer, Mike Heimerdinger, Paul Hackett, Zeke Bratkowski, or whoever the heck came before that. Here are five ways “the new guy” is in an excellent position to succeed, for 2018 and beyond. (Judas Priest at Prudential Center, anyone?)
5. Never Satisfied
It’s not much of a compliment to call any NFL coordinator an improvement over John Morton. But by every measure, Bates should inject excitement into head coach Todd Bowles‘ moribund offense.
Bates is an experienced and imaginative scheme-caller, who knows this roster well. He will be well-served by his understanding of all this team’s offensive strengths and deficiencies.
Critics point out that the 42-year “QB whisperer,” tied to the rise of Jay Cutler in Denver, failed to develop Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg. But Bates is a football coach, not a miracle worker. The bigger question is: will either of those two QBs even be on an active NFL roster next season?
It goes without saying that Bates has the wisdom and knowledge to improve things in 2018. Place your bets on a great young football mind with a helluva lot to prove!
Next: 4. One Shot At Glory
4. One Shot At Glory
The Jets have reportedly decided to go all-in on Kirk Cousins. Bates’ involvement will hugely play into the QB’s acquiescence to spend his next half-decade between Florham Park and MetLife Stadium.
Mike Shanahan drafted Cousins, and Bates, who worked under Shanahan in Denver, incorporates many aspects of the ex-head coach’s playbook. The mix of Cousins’ comfort with Bates’ schemes and the Jets‘ deep pockets could result in a franchise-altering agreement — and a seismic change to this franchise.
Cousins has extolled the Bates hiring as “exciting.” That was a “wink-wink” to the Jets, to join in the fray and “break the bank.”
Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and the rumor mill is ablaze with chatter of Gang Green guaranteeing $60 Million in Year One, or even the entire pact. Whether or not that type of thinking is mistaken, is for another discussion.
Next: 3. Heavy Duty
3. Heavy Duty
“The OC” has limited skill-position tools to work with. So even if 2018’s master plan is Josh McCown backed by that No. 6 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, there’s still an incredible amount of work to be done.
Drafting Baker Mayfield instead of signing Cousins may be the wiser move. But there’s a distinct possibility that someone (Buffalo, Miami?) will trade up to the Top-5, and leave the Jets jilted at the altar, with some dismal combination of last seasons QBs.
So expect the front office to move strongly for offensive talent. There will be some combination of key re-signings (Austin-Seferian-Jenkins, Quincy Enunwa), free agent signings, and Day Two/Day Three draftees to address RB, WR — and most imperative to any future NYJ QB — the O-line.
That’s why a Jeremy Bates-Kirk Cousins union makes sense — and that move coupled with a home-run at pick No. 6, and then grooming a young mid-round QB as a backup would still adhere to the team’s youth movement. Either way, Bates’ input will provide an upgrade to “the most important position in pro sports.”
Next: 2. Screaming for Vengeance
2. Screaming for Vengeance
Bone-headed Robby Anderson (63 catches, 941 yards, 7 TDs) has some serious growing up to do. But perhaps the reality of his NFL second-strike, coupled with an offseason listening to pros like Jermaine Kearse and Jeremy Bates will serve him well in his make-or-break season. There is also a track record with Robby that plays well into the OC’s favor. After imploding at Temple, Anderson humbly returned to school, to have the 70-reception year that resulted in his 2015 UDFA signing.
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Fourth-round pick, raw Cal receiver Chad Hansen, showed flashes in limited rookie-season action (9 receptions). It is not a stretch to see Bates make use of the sure-handed 23-year-old’s huge upside — in the slot with Kearse and Anderson (or whoever they may draft/sign to challenge troubled Robby).
Seferian-Jenkins (50 catches, 357 yards) will hopefully return at tight end. But after watching the troubled No. 38 pick of the 2014 NFL Draft for a complete season on the straight-and-narrow, he’s still got question marks. Like, how much of those overturned touchdowns were actually due to the officiating? And what about all those muffed big plays and invisible spells?
It will take around $30 million for the Jets to sign their own free agents and draft picks. So the front office can spend up to $50-70 million, that will include an offensive line rebuild. And then comes the draft process, to amass more talent. So no matter what, Coach Bates will have a few shiny new weapons in his offensive arsenal.
Next: 1. Take on the World
1. Take on the World
Bates possesses coaching intangibles that transcend Xs-and-Os. Refocused and recharged, he “gets it” in terms of the larger picture of life.
Unlike general manager Mike Maccagnan, Bowles or even defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers, Bates’ stardom can only rise. One day, in the not-too-distant future, Bates will probably be an NFL head coach. If he exhibits those skills as a coordinator, he may get that opportunity sooner rather than later.
So if Cousins and the Jets come to terms, it will be more than a marriage of convenience. He and Bates are both ready to take their next career steps.
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The two men have a cerebral connection, and the new OC can tap into the nuances of the QB’s game. That’s why a Bates-Cousins marriage in Gotham could end up in Green-and-White bliss. Of course, this topic may all be for naught once contenders like Denver, Minnesota, Jacksonville, etc. jump into the free agent frenzy.