GM Phil Emery got his job because the Chicago Bears said he came in with a clear plan. Is that plan beginning to unfold going into Year Three?
Jared Allen and Kyle Fuller moves paint very different pictures
When he took over, Phil Emery stated his goal was to win championships. It’s really that simple, but not easy. To do that he understood he would have to emulate the premier franchises of the league like Green Bay, New England and Seattle. It calls for building through the draft and fortifying a roster with cheap, young talent. However, Emery also said his goal was to win right away. Most would say he can’t have it both ways. Either he tries to win immediately or blows up the roster to build for the future. Instead Emery has taken a slightly offkilter course in building his version of the Chicago Bears. It involves a delicately balanced use of both free agency and the draft. Free agency adds the veterans talent and experience to win now, while the draft helps build the depth for later on. A perfect example of this process can be seen in his retooling of the defense. Signing 32-year old defensive end Jared Allen offers the team little in terms of security down the road, but his pass rush prowess can help them in 2014. Meanwhile they selected cornerback Kyle Fuller in the first round of the draft. Corner was not really a primary need, but with two starters over the age of 30, Emery clearly saw the value of having Fuller on the roster for down the road.
Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall extensions preach stability and leadership
Another part of the Phil Emery plan has been the desire to create an atmosphere of stability, of more home grown talent staying on the team. Even in the midst of his roster turnover, Emery has begun to place a value on this method. No two moves signify that better than the extensions for quarterback Jay Cutler and wide receiver Brandon Marshall. No player earned his money more than Marshall who at age 30 remains one of the best in the NFL but more than that it’s been his leadership the Chicago Bears have learned to covet as much as his talent. Cutler on the other hand has struggled through every problem in the book from inconsistent coaching to bad protection to injury issues. Yet Emery saw growth in him as a leader. So instead of starting fresh with a quarterback of his own choice, the GM opted for Cutler’s talent, experience and the proven NFL trend that quarterbacks improve the longer they play in the same offensive scheme. It’s about building a base of trust between players, coaches and front office people.
In end it’s still not clear whether the Phil Emery plan for the Chicago Bears is working. That only comes when the wins and losses are tallied. Still, the idea is certainly sound and has worked for teams in the past.