Chicago Bears GM Phil Emery On Firing Lovie Smith and His Draft Philosophy
May 23, 2012; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery in attendance during organized team activities at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Phil Emery had this to say about terminating Lovie, “We were in a position where if he stayed, he would be picking his fifth offensive coordinator”. There was so much more, and we will get to some of it in a bit, but if this isn’t the crux of why Lovie is no longer a Bear, you will have to educate me.
Coordinators named Terry Shea, Ron Turner, Mike Martz and Mike Tice have all had the Offensive Coordinator reigns and come up short. By the way…none of them later became an Offensive Coordinator in this league again…at least not yet. Lovie Smith is also enjoying some quiet time this off season having failed to land a head coaching gig yet.
It is somewhat surprising to me that a defensively challenged team has not called him…my guess is he will be employed next season if he wants to and still has the fire in his belly…or wherever he keeps it. Lovie Smith’s most egregious error was his inability to “find the guy” to run the offense. Angelo didn’t help with some of his Offensive Line draft picks for sure but all those players were NFL draft picks for a reason.
Emery went on to say, ” Part of it was because I really believe looking at a team that if you’re going to have success, the most important relationship is between the head coach and the quarterback. I like our quarterback. I think Jay Cutler is very talented. He wants to improve. I know he needed to improve for us to be a championship team”.
I did enjoy Lovie’s “beat the Packers” mantra, but I am really pleased to hear Emery mention Championships so often and then go out and secure talent like Jermon Bushrod, Martellus Bennett and Matt Slauson to work towards that end. It is not as if Angelo did nothing….in fact, some of Angelo’s best moves were in free agency. My issue was that regardless of who we brought in, there seemed to be a glaring hole, typically on offense, that was unaddressed and we were continually whiffing on high draft picks.
Those high draft picks are the picks a GM uses to plug glaring weaknesses! No GM wants to be in a position where you have to start a first or second round pick, but hey lets be realistic…guys picked that high are supposed to be NFL starters. In addition, the team seemed to have difficulty evaluating the talent on the practice field so they started the wrong guys, or stuck with a guys like Roy Williams and Kellen Davis way too long, or let a players like Corey Graham, Brandon Lloyd and Greg Olsen slip away.
Furthermore, it is obvious from Emery’s words that he places supreme importance on the QB. That position is the one position that touches the ball every offensive snap. There are many players that make a team, but there is only one position with such a profound impact. It wasn’t until Angelo signed Cutler that I finally heard the words that indicated he saw the importance of the position and then was quickly followed by the actions to demonstrate the point. Too little, too late I am afraid for team Angelo/Smith.
Finally, Emery had this to say about free agency and his philosophy, “With the current model with the cap, the college end of it, with the draft picks working out, is the way to go. The cost of the younger players is lower. So if you want to have cap flexibility to bring in key dynamic players, that allows you to. But the goal is winning. It doesn’t matter who the players are, or where they come from.”
I am definitely drinking the Phil Emery Kool-Aide! He was able to articulate a concept…the concept…the operative, defining concept; of how a successful GM builds a play off caliber NFL team. The draft is about talent and salary cap management. Free agency is about acquiring dynamic talent, plugging holes and creating depth. If Emery can back his words up with actions, all of us Bear fans are in a for a real treat! Offense in Chicago…finally!