Phil Emery stated his goal was to create a homegrown atmosphere of talent for the Chicago Bears. Has he set the table to accomplish that goal?
Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler deals showcase starting lineup stability
Emmulating the Green Bay Packers might sound sacrilegious to Bears fans but when a team, even a rival, has consistently dominated the division for long enough then it’s clear the best way to beat them is become like them. That is what Emery said was the goal: build the roster to compete immediately and then focus on fortifying the depth for competing down the road. It is by no means an easy task and is something many other general managers have failed at. However, thanks to a series of bold moves including trades, free agent signings and draft selections it seems the first part of Emery’s plan is complete. The Chicago Bears starting lineup is set, not just for 2014 but the next two to three seasons as well. That is why they extended known commodities like Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall while offering deals to proven vets like Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston. It gives the team more talent and leadership in the short-term which creates an opportunity to compete. At the same time it also grants Emery the flexibility to focus on the future in the draft.
Ka’Deem Carey and Ego Ferguson are picks for the future
A perfect example is the 2014 class. Kyle Fuller, their #1 pick is slated to start at nickel corner but is pegged by most as an eventual successor to Pro Bowler Charles Tillman. Second round pick Ego Ferguson is a raw but talented defensive tackle in need of development but isn’t expected to start due to the presence of veterans Jeremiah Ratliff and Stephen Paea. Fourth round pick Ka’Deem Carey is expected to back up star running back Matt Forte but by several accounts has the proven ability to eventually become a three-down player teams can feed. Sixth round pick David Fales does not project as a starter but his intelligence, accuracy and excellent preparation make him the perfect backup moving forward. Fellow sixth rounder Pat O’Donnell was perhaps the most talented punter in the 2014 draft. Essentially the Chicago Bears added young players with starter potential at positions they won’t be needed right away, which is the recipe to consistent success year in and year out.
The key to it all is that the “needs” for the roster have slowly begun to fall away, being replaced by “luxuries.” Chicago can go into the 2015 off-season reasonably confident they can spend some money or draft picks on areas of the roster that might not require attention at the moment, but will a couple years down the road. Thus the team gets deeper, better and a little bit closer to a championship.