Jeremy Bates is an intense guy. That comes across in the Jets quarterback coach's creased brow, his speaking cadence, and some of the phrases he uses.
One of those phrases is emphasizing "the moment" — looking for the moment, working in the moment. It's not surprising, then, that Bates didn't want to dwell on past moments of the previous four years, when he was out of the NFL coaching ranks.
But since Bates' fieldhouse news conference with Jets reporters during the Jets' full-squad minicamp today was his first media session since joining Todd Bowles' 2017 staff, he fielded a few questions on his hiatus and provided some insight into where he'd been and why he's here now.
"I think at the time it was the right time for me to step aside, find out some things about myself, and have the opportunity to do some other things outside of football," he said. "I did a lot of hiking, a lot of traveling. I stayed involved with the game. I'm not going to really focus on my last four years. At the end of the day, I think it made me a better person, I think it made me a better teacher, and I look forward to being a coach this year."
Bowles, new coordinator John Morton — who coached with him at Southern Cal — and his QBs have all spoken highly of Bates and his coaching methods. And Bates spoke highly of the three men in the quarterbacks room with him who are vying to be the starter beginning Sept. 10 at Buffalo. Some Bates-ian comments from today's session:
Josh McCown — "His knowledge of the game's gotten better and he's playing at a high standard right now. It's exciting to watch him play. And it's been well documented what kind of person he is. ... When you're in the same room as him, there's like a brightness to it, it just puts a smile on your face. ... He's able to share all his knowledge with the younger quarterbacks. He's competing against them but at the same time he's trying to help them. So you couldn't ask for a better guy in the room."
Bryce Petty — "Bryce is coming off surgery and hasn't missed a beat, he hasn't flinched. He's out there every day grinding, throwing, hasn't missed a snap. He has a great skillset. He makes a lot of plays 'off schedule,' he has football savvy, and he dove right into the playbook."
Christian Hackenberg — "He's throwing the ball with speed. The hardest part of a new offense is just starting from the first playbook. You have formations, you have protections. He's growing every day. ... I think he's throwing the ball well, he's throwing on time. ... I think he's accurate. ... There's going to be bumps in the road. We can't hit the same bumps the next day. He's shown progress and he keeps going forward."
One Bates bullet point came in response to a question on Petty that was framed by saying that many see him as the No. 3 man in this competition.
"First of all, there's no numbers. Right now we're all competing. There's no rank, no order," he said. "We're excited about all three guys in the room. We're not looking at numbers, we're not counting reps. We're just going to make the most of our opportunity and see where it goes."
And the second-time-around Jets coach (Bates was Herm Edwards' QBs coach in 2005) gave his mindset about the season ahead for the entire team when he was asked if a very young wideout corps puts pressure on the QBs who will be throwing to them.
"We're all in it it together," he said. "There's pressure on the quarterbacks, there's pressure on the receivers, there's pressure on the offensive linemen. This is a pressure business. But we're a family, we're going to grind together, and we're going to come out and compete."