Emery, Bears close to pulling off rare three-part strategy

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by Akuma2000, Apr 1, 2014.

  1. Akuma2000

    Akuma2000 Veteran SuperFan

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    When Phil Emery spoke openly after the 2013 season about the need to get younger on defense, that the Bears would go defense-heavy in the draft, the general manager was in fact laying out only a portion of a three-stage strategy that began unfolding in earnest last year, has continued through this point of the 2014 offseason, and still has that third step to play out.
    The real trick is on defense, where Emery and the Bears are close to doing two distinctly different things at basically the same time: stock a roster with solid veterans while simultaneously building with youth. Here is how Emery and the Bears have done it and are still doing it:

    Phase One: The offense

    The first was obvious last offseason and through the year: Create a championship offense, in particular settle on a franchise quarterback, whether that in fact was indeed Jay Cutler. Incoming head coach Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer were explicitly and publicly reserved in assessments of Cutler, who played to hoped-for levels. Injuries were an issue but Cutler statistically had his highest single-season passer rating anyway, reduced his sack issues and had the second-highest completion percentage of his career. He made the new-contract decision for the organization.
    Age was not the issue on offense that it was one defense, and Emery invested in four new starting offensive linemen, all under the age of 30, with a first-round pick on a guard (Kyle Long). Even the core backups with the exception of Jonathan Scott (31) were sub-30 (Eben Britton, Taylor Boggs, James Brown.

    Emery traded to acquire Brandon Marshall in 2012 and traded up to draft Alshon Jeffery; both sub-30. Marquess Wilson a 2013 draft selection is 22. The four tight ends, led by free-agent pickup Martellus Bennett, are all sub-30.

    The point was that not only had the talent level being raised to the planned level, it was done with players in peak years. That ultimately factors hugely into steps 2 and 3, which is where this becomes exponentially more interesting.

    Phase Two: The 2013 and 2014 defensive cores

    Where the plan developed by Emery with the endorsement of chairman George McCaskey and President Ted Phillips took a hit was the injury tsunami that derailed the 2013 defense. Did Emery err in overestimating how good a top-five defense in 2012 would be in 2013? Not really.
    The injury list isn’t worth re-chronicling. What is perhaps noteworthy is that so many of those players who seemed inadequate last year have mysteriously found work even as the Bears have gone in different directions this offseason:

    The Green Bay Packers snapped up Julius Peppers. Corey Wootton, still rehabbing a hip injury, is a Minnesota Viking. Backup cornerback Zack Bowman is now a New York Giant. Henry Melton, still rehabbing his torn ACL, was signed by the Dallas Cowboys.

    Even Devin Hester was an Atlanta Falcon nine days into free agency, where he’s going to be tried again as a receiver, for Matt Ryan.

    If Emery overestimated talent in 2013, then a number of teams appear to be doing exactly the same thing on some of the very same players.

    Phase Three: The real trick

    What Emery is on the brink of pulling off is the unique juggling trick of getting significantly better with veterans (Jared Allen, Jeremiah Ratliff, D.J. Williams, Charles Tillman, Nate Collins, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young) and getting younger at the same time. The reason:

    The draft.

    Consider a scenario: When the New York Giants drafted Jason Pierre-Paul with the 15th pick of the 2010 draft. He is a two-time Pro Bowl defensive end and 2011 All-Pro.
    He also did not start a single game as a rookie on a team that went 10-6.

    What Emery and the offseason have done to this point is put in place a defense good enough to win now, and that is with zero draft choices. The Bears now are arguably in the position of grabbing a big-time pass rusher like Kony Ealy of Missouri with the 14th pick, and Ealy not being good enough as a rookie to beat out Allen, Houston or Young for a starting job initially.

    If Emery elects defensive tackle at No. 14, does Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald, a potential designer three-technique, easily beat out Ratliff? Not based on Allen’s assessment on Monday:
    “I know Jay Ratliff,” Allen said. “If he’s healthy, he’s a beast. He’s an absolute best.”

    An elite cornerback may be the choice at No. 14: better by Opening Day than Tim Jennings or Tillman? If he is, Emery has hit a home run. Safety? A more fluid situation, but the positions in front of that typically are addressed that high in drafts.

    Emery’s plays have resulted in a dramatically upgraded veteran defense with an entire draft still at hand to stock a pipeline on that same side of the ball.

    “It’s always been about getting the best players possible to continue to build our team towards to winning championships,” Emery said. “And to do that, you have to have high-quality players and players that can make plays. We talked about at the end of the season about having more playmakers on our team, and Jared fits that role.”
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  2. Ski-Whiz

    Ski-Whiz George Halas Staff Member

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    Honestly, all Emery needs is a Championship to cement his status as a genius!

    He's making all the right moves, now it needs to be demonstrated on the field. So far he's doing that (last year).... This year could be the start of people looking at him differently, and seriously!
  3. Akuma2000

    Akuma2000 Veteran SuperFan

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    Your right Whiz, Emery is doing everything a GM is supposed to do to make the team better.......which is pretty amazing to see what he's done in 2 years and 1 offseason (the draft isn't even here yet), which speaks volumes when compared to JA's 10 year tenure who didn't do anything close to what Emery done (other then bringing Cutler and Peppers to the Bears)
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  4. Jimmors

    Jimmors The Rhymenoceros Staff Member SuperFan

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    Exactly. Thats the main difference between him and JA, JA seemed to only make moves to plug holes (and his moves where either hit or miss), he rarely was thinking and planning ahead. Besides Cutler, how many blockbuster FA deals had JA made during his tenure? JA seemed focused on building the team through the draft, and while that had mixed success with our defense, our offense was seriously lacking, and we eventually ended up with aging vets on Defense, with very little in the replacement department.

    I noticed this with Emery last year, he would sign vet FAs, and then combine that with Draft picks to eventually replace the vets: signed Bushrod and Slauson, drafted Mills and Long. Signed Marshall, drafted Alshon. Signed DJ Williams, drafted Bostic. This is kind of why i would be surprised to see us select a DE and DT this draft to go along with the Allen and Ratliff signings.
  5. jackiejokeman

    jackiejokeman Pro-Bowler

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    Maybe not a DE Jimmors , but a DT for sure.

    God knows we have too many DE's.
  6. tbear1

    tbear1 Veteran

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    I am impressed with Phil and Marc. I try not to drink the kool aid, but they really seem to do the right thing to make us competitive.

    On offense, I would like to see them bring back Eben Britton. We need to keep some depth and he looked good last year.

    On defense, we need more depth everywhere as the article states.
  7. Bearsinhouston

    Bearsinhouston Position Coach

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    I think Emery has his warts as we all do, but I think he is near the top of the GM food chain. I think he has done a great job when you consider his body of work. Trestman (I am trying to be objective here) seems to be a good coach. He really had the O clicking last year. We had a very highly rated O for the first time in as long as I can remember. At the same time, he made some real block head moves. I think although he is a MUCH better coach then Lovie, that he has some room to grow. So far I like both of them and I think we are on the right path. Bring back sexy Rexy, Archuletta, and maybe Mushin Mohammed and we'll be all set.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2014
  8. short faced bear

    short faced bear Assistant Head Coach DBS Writer

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    I believe Emery is enjoying a nice run of tactical G.M. success. However, he is showing his philosophy and style over time. I hope he can maintain his tactical acumen in FA and flexibility in draft time. It will be nice years from now to still be guessing what Emery will do next.
  9. MPbears68

    MPbears68 Pro-Bowler

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    Emery has been an absolute ninja in FA as Bears GM (I'm including the Marshall deal here in this assessment even though technically he was a trade not a FA signing). He gets a solid "A" from me in this department.

    His drafting, and I know the jury is still out as it should be, is a mixed bag much more. Long, Mills, and Alshon were good-to-great picks. Hardin, ERod, and Shea were definitely not. Too soon to judge on Bostic and Greene. And Corny and Wilson. If he can prove himself as good a drafter as he's been as a FA-GM, he's gonna be the best we've had since Finks. Gotta consistently have more hits than misses in the first 3 rounds to get there.
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  10. Bearsinhouston

    Bearsinhouston Position Coach

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    I was thinking the same thing. He is a stud in FA.
  11. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I would actually enjoy that for a change. :p :rofl2:
  12. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    You've noticed it too huh? He seems to have system for restocking positions blending vets with rookies and 1st and 2nd year guys so the vets can help the rookies adapt and better understand their assignments. Long gives huge kudos to Garza for all his help which I'm sure it at least part of why he wanted him back. Coaches can only do so much. The rest has be relayed on the field in real time.

    I don't know about a DE as much as I think a LB and another DT. The two biggest holes I see in the front 7 yet to be dealt with are a true 3 tech DT, not a NT, and a MLB prospect. I just don't think Bostic will ever be able to handle MLB but I do think he has the speed and aggressiveness to play WLB where he can scrape along the backside of the line to make tackles. With Urlacher gone I believe that position will be even more important. We could all see even more fall off in the run defense when he went out. He shuts down a lot of runs.

    He seems to be peeling vets off in layers where he needs them the least but keeping or adding enough to keep a balance. I've grown a lot more confident with him this spring. I don't think JA ever really had a plan or at least not a functional one. Emery is a bulldog or may even a pit bull. When decides to fix something he's not about halfway measures.
  13. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    It's nice, whether you agree or not w/some of his moves, to see a plan come together for a GM. Last year in FA he plugged holes and then tried to find long term replacements, and for the most part did so. This year he's doing the same w/the D.
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  14. Bearsinhouston

    Bearsinhouston Position Coach

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    Hey... After what we've had, how do you complain?
  15. DaTreeBears

    DaTreeBears Pro-Bowler

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    I even like his non-moves, like not sending anyone to Johnny Manziel's pro-day. That guy is another Sanchez in the making.
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  16. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    That was a complaint? Come on brother. You've read most of my complaints. That one isn't even close. Should I have put a smiley at the end to signify my satisfaction or would this one be more appropriate. :wank: I'm still reserving final judgment until the climax of his endeavors. :D
  17. Akuma2000

    Akuma2000 Veteran SuperFan

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    It is so refreshing not to hear the usual lingo from angelo and lovie "we're comfortable with the guys we have", knowing we needed changes and nothing got done.

    Good to see that Emery is a no nonsense GM, if something needs to be addressed and/or fixed he doesn't waste anytime and makes it happen.........the future is looking bright for the Bears to be competitive and contending every year in the playoffs starting this upcoming season.
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  18. Bearsinhouston

    Bearsinhouston Position Coach

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    no.. I see how it can be misconstrued. I meant it as how can we complain after what we have had. Not that anyone is complaining. Just a saying... We've hgad it so bad that you pretty much can't complain with whatever we get. We've had the worst (well... not really but it seems that way sometimes) , so it's only up from there, LOL.
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  19. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    You don't, you should be busy trying to catch up on all the air you lost holding your breath for the last 10 years.
  20. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    1. I am impressed by how Emery makes good use of every cap-dollar. He gets a good value/return with his FA investments, and doesn't lock us into risky long-term contracts when a shorter term contract allows us to bail out on some of these guys if needed, without too bad of a cap penalty.

    2. With cap realities being what they are, the foundation for sustaining winning is to keep a pipeline of young talent coming through that draft pipeline. The draft is the source for sustained winning within cap restraints - not doing the Dallas or Redskin thing of spending money on FA's like idiots.

    3. To do #2, above, you have to have an exceptional scouting department and GM. Even the best teams will draft a few busts. It happens. But that bust rate must be smaller than the other 31 teams if you want to win championships. Look at the classy franchises of the NFL. These teams sustain success by being shrewd judges of talent, with very few misses. And over time, they have rock solid DEPTH too. It's not just the starters who shine. When starters go down (as ours did last season) they simply reload and keep firing - and winning. That's not a pipe dream folks. That's what the BEST teams do.

    But a lot of this hinges upon that scouting department & GM. I was thinking today, that if they want to honor somebody at a future game, if we win a super bowl due to our GM and scouting department (not just the coaches, but the guys who fuel the success and stock the pipeline), how about trotting out our scouting department boys and showing THEM some love :-)
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2014
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