April 26, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; General manager Phil Emery during a Chicago Bears press conference announcing their first-round selection of guard Kyle Long from Oregon University at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Bears face another offseason watching the action from their couches instead of on the field. When Phil Emery replaced Jerry Angelo a couple of seasons ago, he made his mission statement really clear – WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS. After two seasons under his leadership, are the Bears any closer to that goal?
In his short tenure with the Bears, Emery has confirmed a few things about himself as a GM – he’s meticulous, forthright and unconventional. But the most important question facing Bears fans has yet to be answered – DO YOU TRUST PHIL EMERY? We still have a limited sampling, but there is evidence that we can dissect to help us at least form an early opinion.
Let’s look at the Bears’ lengthy press conference earlier this week. I was very pleasantly surprised to hear GM Phil Emery pointing thumbs instead of fingers.
On his first draft pick Shea McClellin:
"“When we needed a pass rusher to step up, Shea contributed greatly in terms of our overall production,” Emery said. “No matter how we shake out the stats as far as the importance of the person on the field to our pass rush, Shea was No. 1. But he did not have enough impact plays. Sacks are king, and Shea did not have enough of those. “What we have to do with Shea is find ways to use the unique talents and skills of the players that we have. Putting him at defensive end, that’s on me, not giving him the ultimate opportunity to succeed. He produced in a positive way, but the overall impact of the last two seasons has not been at a high enough level.”"
On the trouble at the safety position:
"“Needed another safety to provide competition to improve our group,” Emery said. “That’s on me. I selected Brandon Hardin. I put that young man in a bad position to succeed, moved him from a corner to a safety, and he wasn’t able to make that transformation, and that’s on me.”"
On the lack of defensive depth, particularly on the defensive line:
"“There was a dramatic dropoff,” Emery said. “I have to look at did we have enough depth to win football games? The answer is no, OK? From a personnel perspective and from my perspective, I had not done enough to provide enough depth. “We were at least one defensive lineman short at the tackle position going into the season. For that fourth tackle, we felt like we had a tackle signed in Sedrick Ellis. That didn’t work out. That’s on me. “The fact that we couldn’t replace Sedrick, that’s on me. We didn’t have enough pass rush from the outside or the inside. We needed one more. (Rookie) David Bass came in and did a very good job against the run, but he’s a young rusher. We needed one more there.”"
Those are the kind of direct and pointed words and self-criticism that you’d never have heard from the previous regime. But in hearing Emery’s “mea culpa’s” it also makes you ask, does this guy know what the heck he’s doing?