An Open Letter to Phil Emery on the Eve of the NFL Draft
Feb 20, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery speaks during a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Dear Mr. Emery,
May I call you Phil? I hope this letter finds you well. I can only imagine you’re pretty tired this time of the year; leading up to the NFL Draft I’m sure you’re swamped. I thought I’d take the time to drop you a quick note to give you some pointers on the upcoming draft. You’ve built a hell of a team so far; the evolution of the offense in just two seasons is astonishing. Clearly the defense hit a few bumps in the road last season after being decimated by injuries. I don’t need to tell you that you need to get younger on defense, you’ve promised as much at the onset of the offseason.
You’ve done a nice job setting yourself up for the draft with some key offseason signings. I have to admit, I was a little concerned about the defensive end position but when you found a way to add Jared Allen, that put my mind at ease. I’m sure that between him, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, and the return of Nate Collins and Jeremiah Ratliff at the DT spots, you think you have enough help on the defensive front. But as we learned last season, you can’t have enough depth up front.
Speaking of depth, I’m a little worried about what you’ve got going on in the secondary. Major Wright is (thankfully) gone and Chris Conte was bad and to make matters worse, won’t have the offseason to work on his game as he heals up from offseason shoulder surgery. I know you’ve added Ryan Mundy, Danny M.D. Jennings and Danny McRay while re-signing Craig Steltz. Besides Mundy, I don’t know that there’s a starting-caliber safety among the group. I think we’d agree, we need to add an impact player in that area.
Hats off about bringing back Peanut Tillman. I think we were all worried that the best cornerback in Bears history was going to slip away to Tampa Bay. He may not have a lot left in the tank, but his value as a leader and his timely “Peanut Punches” are well worth the investment. Getting Tim Jennings back is another key move – he’s impressed me the last couple of seasons. But if we look at this objectively, you’ve got a couple of aging corners, one of which missed significant time due to injury. In today’s pass-happy NFL, where you’re facing Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson twice a year, you’ve got to be able to shut those guys down. I think that’s another area where you could make some improvements through the draft.
We can’t ignore the offensive side of the ball. Things are pretty well set, but Matt Forte is getting up there in mileage and with Michael Bush being shown the door, you’ve got an obvious need to solidify. While Martellus Bennett was terrific last season (another great free agent pickup last offseason, by the way) you had to have Eben Britton lining up at tight end quite a bit. You’ve doubled down on a position before by adding Alshon Jeffery to pair with Brandon Marshall and the results were electric. Maybe there will be an opportunity to upgrade your tight end group besides Rosario Dawson and practice squaddie Fendi Onobun.
Your drafts before have been a little hit or miss, so let me give you a few more pointers on page 2 of this letter…