Emery-Smith relationship could be difficult...or not

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Emery-Smith relationship could be difficult...or not

INDIANAPOLIS -- The working relationship between new GM Phil Emery and incumbent coach Lovie Smith will be among the most closely watched, most difficult to determine and most important in the immediate direction of the franchise.

Smith was announced as staying in place by President Ted Phillips on the day of Jerry Angelos firing. Emery took the GM job knowing he has Smith at minimum for 2012.

Mike Lombardi, veteran NFL front-office executive and currently with NFL Network, said Thursday on WSCR-AM 670 The Scores Mully and Hanley Show that their relationship could be difficult.

I think its going to be difficult, especially if they dont share the philosophical understanding of players, Lombardi said. When you look at the Tampa way and what Lovie is accustomed to, I think its a bit different. Theyre going to have to see eye to eye.

If theres anything more obvious, Im not sure what it would be. Lombardi even says that as soon as the two get in synch, everything could fall in place.

Obviously.

There could and probably will be differences. Probably should be, for that matter. Indeed, for a possible point of difference, you needed look no further than Emerys introductory press conference in which he stressed that the NFL is a big-mans game.

Smith has long been of a mind that, forced to choose between size and speed, he takes speed.

Yet, as one veteran NFL personnel exec told CSNChicago.com here this week, Lovie also has one of the NFLs biggest middle linebackers (Brian Urlacher) and biggest defensive ends in a 4-3 scheme (Julius Peppers).

And do you think Smith is going to object if Emery holds to his pattern of drafting bigger wide receivers (Michael Jenkins, Roddy White, Jonathan Baldwin)? Not likely.

GMs inheriting head coaches under contract can indeed be very difficult situations. Angelo arrived with Dick Jauron in place and it was a bad situation when Jauron posted a strong (13-3) 2001 and Angelo was forced to keep him with a new contract.

But Jauron had had two dismal seasons in his first two years. Smith may have made the playoffs just once in the past five seasons but he also has had just two losing seasons in his last seven, and both of those 7-9s (2007, 2009), not the 6-10 and 5-11 that Jauron had before Angelo.

Nothing is assured whenever there is major change at the top. But neither is it a given that the Emery-Smith arrangement will be difficult.

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

The adage “play the man, not the board” seems somehow appropriate for what the Bears are doing to prepare for the Detroit Lions behind quarterback Matt Barkley.

“The man” is Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, and the Bears have been scouting him as well as his defenses, beyond just Bears games, beyond this season and last, taking in his 2014 Detroit season when Austin prepared defenses for Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen.

How did Austin scheme for rookie Carson Wentz when the Lions played (and beat) the Philadelphia Eagles? How did he structure is defense to stop a rookie Teddy Bridgewater when Detroit played Minnesota? (Not very well, apparently, since the Vikings won both games and scored 54 points combined in the two games).

While the John Fox Bears staff went against Austin’s Lions defense twice last year, Cutler was the Bears quarterback. When the Bears beat Austin and the Lions two months ago, it was with Brian Hoyer.

Now the Bears quarterback is Matt Barkley, who has fewer NFL games played (seven) than Cutler has NFL seasons (11), Hoyer (eight), too, for that matter.

“Different defensive coordinators attack young quarterbacks differently,” said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “Some guys blitz, some guys play a bunch of zone. This group on defense there, they have a really good defensive coordinator, they're really smart, they do a bunch of stuff. On the back end, they run all the coverages.

“As a game, we'll have to make adjustments as the game goes and see what their plan to come out is early.”

Coaches and players may talk about how they prepare for a scheme irrespective of which opposing quarterback, running back, linebacker or whatever they will be facing. But in fact, preparations start with who is orchestrating the opponent’s offense or defense – play the man, not the board.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

A risk can be out-thinking yourself trying to anticipate what a coordinator will do. The first point, Loggains said, is to start with your own strengths.

“We definitely look at that,” Loggains said. “As you go in the league long and longer, you face these guys, you see them in crossover games. We always know how a guy attacks a rookie quarterback or attacks a young quarterback, a veteran, or, in Matt's case, a guy who hasn't played as much.”

Evaluations of Barkley’s performance will broaden, particularly now that he is on tape for defensive coordinators to scheme for and scout. And while they are watching Barkley, the Bears are watching them.

Bears Talk Podcast: Is there friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio?

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Bears Talk Podcast: Is there friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio?

In the latest Bears Talk Podcast, Jim Miller joins Pat Boyle to discuss the friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio. And are there changes in store for the Bears coordinators?

Plus, Brian Urlacher and Mark Schanowski break down the play of rookie Leonard Floyd and find out which one of Urlacher’s former teammates Floyd reminds him of.

And don't miss a preview of Sunday’s NFC North clash with the Lions, who will be out for revenge.

Check out the latest edition of the Bears Talk Podcast here: