- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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"He's still the same quarterback," Bates said Sunday. "He's got a great arm. I think the experience of any profession or anything you do, you grow with it, both good and bad. But he's definitely matured as a player because he's had both good games and bad games. You get better every game. The more experiences, the more snaps, you're always going to get better at your craft.'
"I think he's got great talent. He's a Pro Bowl quarterback. I'm excited to be with him."
Cutler enjoyed the finest season of his career while working with Bates and former Broncos and current Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan. In 2008, which ironically turned out to be the final year in Denver for all three, Cutler passed for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns en route to earning his first, and so far only Pro Bowl selection. The hope is Cutler can one again reach a Pro Bowl level with the help of Bates, plus the change in offense under Mike Tice and the addition of such weapons as receiver Brandon Marshall, who Bates also coached during his time with the Broncos.
"He loves football," Bates said of Cutler. "He's super intelligent. He can make all the throws. He's athletic and he comes to work every day.
"(Marshall) is a big target. You like to have to those big targets. He's a hard-worker, can get in and out of cuts. It's going to be fun to have those two together again."
Bates spent three years on the Broncos' staff from 2006-2008, where he spent time coaching both quarterbacks and wide receivers. He then jumped to the collegiate level to team up with Pete Carroll at USC and followed the head coach to Seattle where he served as offensive coordinator for just one season. Upon being let go by the Seahawks, Bates spent last year out of football, which made him eager to reunite with Cutler when the opportunity to join the Bears presented itself in early February.
"This is a great, historic franchise," Bates said. "At the same time, I tell my receivers and quarterbacks in the meeting that if you can't beat them, join them. We (Seattle) lost (to the Bears) in the 2010 playoffs. I'm just very fortunate to be with a great staff, great ownership and good players."