Phil Emery has headstart as Bears’ GM, plus 10 observations
BY MARK POTASH Twitter: @MarkPotash January 30, 2012 12:08PM
With coach Lovie Smith and quarterback Jay Cutler in place, new Bears GM Phil Emery will have a headstart on his predecessors. Click through the gallery for 10 more observations--football and otherwise--from the weekend.
Updated: January 30, 2012 2:17PM
Phil Emery might be just another typical Halas Hall hire — a Peter Principle guy with whom the McCaskeys are both familiar and comfortable, a character guy who will happily accept a role of fractured authority to get the best job of his life.
Or he could be the next Jim Finks, if rumors from Halas Hall insiders are true that Emery will be given the key to the place like a real NFL general manager.
We don’t know that yet. But either way, Emery has one advantage as he takes over for Jerry Angelo as the Bears’ general manager today. He’s got a head coach and a quarterback.
Yes, though it irks many long-time fans that the Bears did it backwards — hiring a general manager who can’t hire his own head coach — the dynamic that Emery inherits is actually pretty good.
Whether the Lovie-haters want to acknowledge it or not, Emery ostensibly is taking over a 10-6/11-5 team that would have had as good of a chance of winning the NFC in 2011 as it did in 2010 had Jay Cutler not suffered a broken thumb against the Chargers. The Bears biggest problems loom in 2013 or 2014 when the Urlacher/Peppers/Briggs troika is more likely to be showing its age. That’s when Emery might have to make big changes and presumably will have the authority to do so.
For now all the Bears need Emery to do what he does best — get instant impact from the draft before the current window closes completely. We can worry about his ‘‘vision’’ and authority later.
That Emery doesn’t have to waste his time hiring a new coach and finding a quarterback is huge. The great Bill Parcells failed as chief executive with the Miami Dolphins for two simple reasons — he couldn’t get the coach (Tony Sparano) and the quarterback (Chad Pennington, Chad Henne) right.
As the Bears did a generation ago, the Saints struggled to replace Finks until they found a GM (Mickey Loomis) who could get the coach (Sean Payton) and the quarterback (Drew Brees) right. And it took Loomis four years to do that.
When Scott Pioli came to Kansas City off the Bill Belichick tree, the first two moves he made was to fire the coach (Herman Edwards) and trade for a quarterback (Matt Cassel). He just fired the coach (Todd Haley) he hired and still is waiting for the quarterback to pay dividends.
A coach and a quarterback makes everything easy. When Ron Wolf was named general manager of the Packers in 1991 (Hint, hint: ‘‘He has full authority to run the Packers football operation,’’ team president Bob Harlan said.), Wolf hired the right coach (Mike Holmgren) and acquired the right quarterback (Brett Favre) within six weeks of the end of the 1991 season.
Wolf hired Holmgren not only because he was a hot commodity as the 49ers’ offensive coordinator, but because he had a way of dealing with people. ‘‘I felt like I had known Mike all my life’’ just minutes into his interview, Wolf said. Wolf had a similar sixth sense about Favre. ‘‘I just felt when he stepped on the field he tilted the field in your favor,’’ Wolf said. And it was Wolf who recommended current Packers GM Ted Thompson to Harlan in 2004.
It’s not known whether Phil Emery has the same knack for hiring key people as Ron Wolf. But the point is, with the coach and quarterback already in place, he doesn’t need it. His charge right now is to capitalize on an immediate opportunity by filling in the missing pieces. He can afford to worry about the big stuff later.. CLICK HERE for 10 other observations—football and otherwise—from an unusually eventful pre-Super Bowl Week week in sports: