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Learning from the best
One of the first things Pete Carroll said when he was hired to coach the Seahawks has become one of his mantras: “We’re going to do things better than it’s ever been done.”
So it was no surprise that shortly after he arrived in mid-January that Carroll opted to hire Jeremy Bates as his offensive coordinator. Or, re-hire, since Bates was the offensive coordinator for Carroll last season at the University of Southern California.
“Jeremy is one of the young, unbelievably bright minds in the NFL,” Carroll has said of Bates.
Young? Definitely. Bates is only 33, but he comes to the Seahawks with a coaching resume that belies his age. Bright mind? Yeah, that too.
“Jeremy is brilliant,” Mike Heimerdinger, the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, once said of Bates. “He’s very imaginative. He comes up with a different game plan every week. He does a great job of changing the formations. He diagnoses well.”
Take a lot from some, add even more from the others and you have the influences that have shaped the life and molded the philosophy of Jeremy Bates. No wonder he comes to the Seahawks with the reputation of being a grinder, as well as a play-caller who will leave no play unturned if it can help his offense move the ball.
“It’s pretty easy, if you have any common sense, why these guys are all successful,” Bates said. “They love what they do. They’re fired up every day with coaching the game and with making these players as good as they can be.”
The whole of the parts that have shaped Bates’ life will have the Seahawks’ offense looking a lot like the one he learned under Shanahan with the Denver Broncos.
“That’s real accurate,” Bates said. “We’re keeping the same terminology as Denver. We’re running the zone (blocking scheme). At the same time, we’re going to throw the ball. It’s going to be a fun season.”
One that will be spiced by the seasoning Bates got from working so closely with the aforementioned mentors – some of the greatest minds to ever coach the game. In order, he’s how each has impacted him:
After coaching in college for 14 years, Jeremy’s father moved to the NFL in 1991 and has had stints with the Cleveland Browns (twice), Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers, Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Seahawks.com will feature the new coaches on Pete Carroll’s staff during the coming weeks:
“I knew I wanted to be a football coach at a young age, so it was good to just watch him and study him and see what they were looking for,” Bates said.
Did he say a young age? “I first started going to two-a-days when I was 5 years old,” Bates said. “I had one rule: I wasn’t allowed to talk; just hand me the ball. Training camp has always been very special, because I’d always spend training camp with my dad.”
Bates’ father looked at football from the defensive side, so that also helped Jeremy develop as an offensive coach.
“The more you know about the game – or anything in life – makes it easier,” Bates said.
Don’t recognize the name? He is the baseball coach at Rice University, where Bates was a second baseman in addition to being the 5-foot-8 quarterback on the football team.
“He’s an amazing college baseball coach. He’s like a football coach coaching baseball,” said Bates, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in one knee as a sophomore in high school and the ACL in his other knee as a junior at Rice.
“He taught me how to respect the game. He was all about respecting what everybody has done before our time to make it so pure. That’s the same with football – respect the fact that everybody before us has made the game into what it is. And it’s special.”
Bates’ first job in the NFL was on Gruden’s staff with the Buccaneers in 2002. His first season with Gruden, the Bucs won the Super Bowl. But Bates considers his three-year tenure with Gruden a win-win situation, from start to finish.
“I can’t say enough, he obviously gave me my start,” Bates said of Gruden, who got a similar start from former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren. “He let me get my foot in the door, and he just taught me how to grind. I was up really early in the morning and working really late at night, and I learned every play known to man.
“It was special. The one thing I take from Jon is his passion. You’ve got to have the passion. It’s too hard of a job if you’re not in love with it.”
Bates also learned from Gruden that you can never stop learning.
“You’ve got to keep growing,” Bates said. “Even Jon, he wasn’t just exactly (like) Holmgren after he left Mike. You keep growing. You keep studying. … That’s kind of what Jon did teach me. He studied all the top offenses every offseason and kept growing as a coach, as an offense. There’s a lot of information out there, and it’s for us to steal and try to make it work for us.”
Bates joined Shanahan’s staff with the Broncos in 2006 and digested volumes during the next three seasons.
“Mike is the CEO of the organization,” Bates said of Shanahan, now head coach of the Washington Redskins. “It was very businesslike. Again, his passion was like Jon’s. These guys love the game. They love dominating, competing and being the best.”
Bates’ first job with the Broncos was assisting Rick Dennison with the offensive line, which still carried the zone-blocking brand left by Gibbs.
“Mike also gave me by first opportunity to call plays,” Bates said. “It’s been a fun ride.”
Bates was the assistant head coach on Carroll’s staff at USC last season. When Carroll came to Seattle, Bates followed – willingly, and thankfully.
“The first time I met coach Carroll was down in Tampa, because he’s best friends with (former Bucs defensive coordinator) Monte Kiffin,” Bates said. “When coach Carroll calls me (from USC), I’m like, ‘Wow, this is the winningest football coach in college.’ And I wanted to go win.”
Bates calls what Carroll has “the winning formula,” adding, “The opportunity to see that formula was important to me. ... I thought it was a natural process for growing, for developing as a young coach.”
This is the first time Bates and the master of the zone-blocking scheme have ever been on the same staff together. But Bates’ preference for that style of run blocking comes from Gibbs’ widespread influence.
“The Seahawks’ website called Alex ‘The Godfather of the zone (blocking),’ and it’s true,” Bates said. “He does clinics at colleges. He goes to the Falcons; he goes to the Houston Texans, and the next thing you know they’ve got five zone coaches that are amazing.
“It’s an honor, it’s a privilege and I’m really excited to be working side by side with him.”
Just the latest coach to continue the molding and mentoring of Jim Bates’ kid.