In the first of nine position previews in advance of training camp, coach Jeremy Bates discusses Bears quarterbacks with ChicagoBears.com senior writer Larry Mayer:
LM: How is Jay Cutler similar or different to the player he was when you coached him in Denver?
JB: "He still has the same arm strength he's always had. I see him as the same player, except now he has more knowledge about defenses and more experience playing the game. So to me it's the same guy, only with more knowledge as far as just the maturity of playing the game and going through reps."
LM: What are Jay's strengths as a player?
JB: "No. 1, he's known for his arm, which is a given. He has a very talented arm. At the same time, he has great ability to make plays with his feet and keep his eyes down the field. He can keep a play alive that a lot of times would not work. He's also very intelligent. He doesn't need a lot of reps to understand what we're trying to accomplish. So he has football smarts, arm strength and athleticism."
LM: How well is he going to fit into what the Bears are going to do offensively?
JB: "As a coach, you better have an offense that fits the players, so hopefully it fits very well."
LM: What are your expectations for Jay this season?
JB: "As a team, we want to win the Super Bowl. If you strive for that, everything else falls into place."
LM: What have been your impressions of backup quarterback Jason Campbell?
JB: "I've had a great experience with him. He's been through a lot of systems, and he picked up this system really quick. He's not the typical first-round quarterback that's been in the same system for years where it takes him a while to learn a new one. He's been through a couple systems in Washington and Oakland, so coming here he was able to adapt and start spitting out plays real quick. He was a quick study. He also has a great arm and he's athletic as well. But the most impressive thing is how well he's been able to adapt to a new system because sometimes with an older vet that can be a challenge."
LM: Especially given what transpired last season, how important is it to have a skilled backup like Jason ready to step in if needed?
JB: "The Bears were 7-3 last year [when Cutler sustained a season-ending injury], so you can look at that. It's important. It's a tough position. Sixteen games is a lot of games. You always want your No. 1 to start, but at the same time you want to have a backup that's a vet and when he goes into a game he can win it."
LM: Josh McCown performed well late last season after being signed by the Bears while coaching high school football in North Carolina. What have been your impressions of him?
JB: "He's another student of the game. I love him in our room. He asks a lot of good football questions. He just has fun playing the game, and that kind of energy rubs off not only in the quarterback room but on the entire offensive team. He's a gym rat. He's a football guy. He was a coach like you said. He's a special kid. He's lasted a lot of years in the NFL for a reason, and that's because he loves the game." [