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New GM Phil Emery shows coach Lovie Smith some love

New general manager Phil Emery praised coach Lovie Smith said he was ‘‘excited be around him his staff.’’ | Tom

New general manager Phil Emery praised coach Lovie Smith and said he was ‘‘excited to be around him and his staff.’’ | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: March 1, 2012 9:50AM



Phil Emery is a Lovie Smith guy.

He was Monday, at least. The Bears’ new general manager not only accepted Smith as his head coach for the 2012 season — he had no choice — but he embraced him.

Emery sounded more like Smith’s colleague than his boss at his introductory news conference at Halas Hall. There was no hint of a win-or-else standard for next season after the Bears failed to make the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons since playing in the Super Bowl.

‘‘I don’t look at it in terms of standards,’’ Emery said when asked what the benchmark would be for Smith next season. ‘‘We’re all evaluated every day on how we interact with people, how we provide leadership, how we use our talent and resources.

‘‘I’m here to help this team. I’m a teammate. Yes, I’m in a leadership role, but I’m here to provide support, help, guidance and talent toward winning championships. I’m gonna do all with every fiber of my body to develop within that role and to sync with coach Smith and to help bring those championships.’’

The Emery-Smith relationship will be in the spotlight next season. After that time, Emery will have the authority to hire and fire the head coach. And many new GMs prefer their own guy.

But Emery, a first-time GM, wasn’t about to throw his weight around on his first day.

‘‘I have full control [of the roster], but that’s not where my head is at,’’ Emery said. ‘‘My head is at working with coach Smith toward developing consistent championships.’’

Emery was an area scout for the Bears for five months after Smith was hired as their coach, so they’re not unfamiliar with each other.

‘‘The qualities that I saw in coach Smith then in the draft room and being around him are the same qualities that I have seen from afar,’’ Emery said. ‘‘Leadership, poise, calmness under duress, skills as a coach, demanding of his players, helping others, being a good teammate. I’m excited to be around him and his staff as we build toward winning championships.’’

Team president Ted Phillips said Emery was ‘‘contractually’’ given the same authority as previous GM Jerry Angelo. He said he expects Emery and Smith to work together.

‘‘The reality is just as with Jerry and Lovie,’’ Phillips said. ‘‘When I hired Jerry, I said this; when I hired Phil, I said this: ‘I expect not to ever have to pick up your contract and read the language between you and Lovie.’ The idea is you work together to find the best team for the Bears.’’

Emery offered little insight into roster issues. He likes quarterback Jay Cutler. He likes linebacker Brian Urlacher. Will he use the franchise tag on running back Matt Forte?

‘‘It’s a tool that has been collectively bargained .  .  . that’s fair to the player and the club,’’ Emery said. ‘‘That doesn’t mean we’re going to use it.’’



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