More than a big-name guy, Bears GM Emery wants the right guy
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org January 1, 2013 12:48PM
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Updated: January 2, 2013 1:13PM
A month after being hired as the Packers’ general manager in 1991, Ron Wolf fired Lindy Infante with one coach in mind as his replacement: larger-than-life Bill Parcells, then in hiatus as an analyst for NBC.
Wolf had casual discussions with Parcells about the Packers job. But after he interviewed 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Holmgren, Wolf knew he had his man.
‘‘Very briefly into the interview, I knew there wasn’t any sense to go further,’’ Wolf said at the time. ‘‘I felt like I had known Mike all my life.’’
That was about as far as that coaching search went. Holmgren was hired on Jan. 11, 1992, and the rest is Packers history.
‘‘That’s the synergy I’m looking for,’’ Bears general manager Phil Emery said Tuesday. ‘‘I want that person to grab me. I want to see it. I want to hear it. I want to walk away from it and know that that’s our guy.’’
In need of a home run after firing the beloved and respected Lovie Smith following a 10-6 season, it would make sense that Emery’s next move would be to make Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher an offer he couldn’t refuse. Instead, it appears he’s more intent on using his football intuition to find the right guy.
Instead of the big name, he’s more likely looking for the next Mike Tomlin, a secondary coach with one year as a coordinator before he was hired by the Steelers at 35 in 2007, or the next Mike McCarthy, a respected but low-profile coordinator whose offense in San Francisco was last in the NFL when he was hired by the Packers in 2006.
‘‘[The] No. 1 criterion is excellence in their role,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re going to look offensively. We’re going to look defensively. We’re going to look special teams. We’re going to look NFL. We’re going to look college.
‘‘We’re looking for somebody with great organizational skills and administrative skills, along with leadership skills. . . . You have to be thorough, meticulous. . . . I want somebody that has high energy. I want somebody that has warmth that pulls everybody together, upbeat and positive. I want somebody that’s good on their feet. I want this person to stand up and represent us well.’’
Emery feels like his eclectic background in football has prepared him to find that guy. In 32 years at various levels (NAIA, NCAA Division I and II and the NFL) and in various roles (strength-and-conditioning, offensive line, defensive line and scouting), Emery has seen football from more angles and dealt with more disparate personalties than most in his profession. He thinks he knows what makes people tick.
‘‘I’ve seen excellence,’’ Emery said. ‘‘I understand it. And I know from a scouting perspective, that’s your job — to evaluate people, situations, figure out excellence and try to move forward.’’
The challenge for Emery is to find a balance between being thorough and efficient. With two weeks of interviews lined up, he’s off to a fast start. Fulfilling the requirements of the Rooney Rule by inteviewing Falcons special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong is a good sign.
Emery said he’d like to hire a coach before the Jan. 19 East-West Shrine Game. With six other NFL teams looking for coaches, he might have to maneuver to get his guy. He sounded ready to do that.
‘‘We’re going to let [the process] run its course,’’ Emery said. ‘‘Now, if there’s somebody that really grabbed me and he says, ‘I’ve got Team X [interested], what’s your process?’ then I’m going to have to make that decision. But my plan is to work through [the process] first.’’