The critiques and probings for the last couple of months have all been on players how they have performed, how they project to perform, how they measure and so on.The Bears have done all of those analyses but the one they did before the process ever started will matter more than that of any pass rusher, wide receiver or anyone else in this draftPhil Emery.This is the first time Emery is in charge of a draft and that was the chief area of operations for which he was hired. He kept the scouting staff and head coach and that staff in place after his hiring. A reasonable conclusion from that is that the Bears are not suddenly going to morph into some completely unrecognizable drafting organization.The area scouts here are as fine as youre going to find in the NFL, Emery said. They know how to go about their job.So Im excited to see how we do as a group and as a team in attacking the question of whose the best player thats going to help us now, at each level, each spot in the draft, at each one of our picks, that brings us closer to a championship.The overly simplistic assessment of Emery is that he comes from the fuzzy notion of a Patriot Way of building teams. Emery never worked for New England but he worked under twogeneral managers Thomas Dimitroff in Atlanta, Scott Pioli in Kansas City who did but have not achieved a fraction of the New England success on their own.Thats not enough automatic insight, that somebody worked for somebody who worked someplace else. The keys to a persons future so often lie in the past and Emerys does not fit conveniently into the Patriots way. (Besides, pretty much any Way probably works if you find Tom Brady in a sixth round sometime).Finding a Bears Way?Lovie Smith is quick to correct any reference to the Mike Martz offense or the Tampa-2 defense, speaking only in terms of the Chicago Bears offense. He and Emery also will be about the business of a Bears Way now.Emery was with the Bears longer than with any other organization (1998-2004), a consideration in his hiring as general manager. And its a suggestion that he has more schooling in the Bears Way under Mark Hatley and Jerry Angelo than any other.Emery gives due credit to that Patriots Way but also to the others hes been part of over the past 15 or so years.In terms of taking from my past, in terms of process, I learned a little from everybody along the way, Emery said. Its a long process but the important thing is that you can draw it to a conclusion in a positive way and get to the players that you are most orientated to, that you feel are going to do the most for your football team, impact playmakers, the producers.The Emery BearsNo high draft picks are made in a vacuum, although degrees of control can vary from Piolis control style in Kansas City to Angelos consensus approach. So blaming or crediting one individual for a pick hit or miss is rarely accurate.Emery began in the NFL under Hatley and was the Bears area scout for the Northeast in 1998-99. During that time the Bears drafted Curtis Enis No. 1 out of Penn State, someone who fooled everyone from Joe Paterno on down (or up, depending on your JoPa feelings). Deride the Enis pick if you like, but Bill Belichick (New England) and Tom Coughlin (Jacksonville) were working the Bears in an effort to trade up to get him.They also selected Jerry Azumah from New Hampshire in the 1999 fifth round, converted him to cornerback and ended up with a Pro Bowl kick returner. Somebody gets some credit there for seeing a college tailback (and Walter Payton Award winner) who could convert to the other side of the ball. From 2000-2004 Emery was the area scout for the Southeast. The Bears picked wideout Dez White from Georgia Tech and tight end Dustin Lyman from Wake Forest in third rounds (2000); in 2002 cornerback Roosevelt Williams from Tuskegee and guard Terrence Metcalf from Mississippi (more South than Southeast) were selected in the third round of the 2002 draft.Alex Brown was a fourth-round hit out of Florida that year.After the Bears traded down and took Floridas Rex Grossman in 2003, Charles Tillman came in the second round in 2003 out of Louisiana-Lafayette. Safety Todd Johnson and Ian Scott, both from Florida, were hits in that draft.As with Enis, the Grossman pick can be ridiculed (and has been). He was also the starter in a Bears Super Bowl appearance and is still going in the NFL (Washington), so fairs fair here.The pressure has been on Emery since he arrived and he has handled that deftly with 10 roster additions via free agency and trade. If the pressure vise is squeezing him now, it isnt apparent.Im having a blast actually, Emery said with very obvious relish. Im having a good time. Im having the time of my life. Its a great city, great fans. Im enjoying every second of it.
Remember back in 2014 when the Bears rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the 49ers 28-20 in San Francisco on Sunday Night Football?
Well, Brandon Marshall doesn't.
And he had three of the four touchdown catches, two of them coming in the last quarter.
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The former Bears wide receiver, who had been dealing with a high ankle sprain, said he took pain pills before the game and doesn't recall much of it, including the incredible one-handed grab that went viral.
"I don't really remember much about that game because I worked really hard to get back from a high ankle (sprain)," Marshall said during a conference call Wednesday. "I'll say it, I took a couple pain pills that masked the pain. I really wasn't supposed to play. I came back from a high ankle (sprain) within 10 days. I was supposed to be out four to six weeks. I don't remember much from that game. I just remember catching those balls. And that was pretty much it."
If only Bears fans could forget that season entirely, which ended in a 5-11 record and the end of the Marc Trestman era.
It may have been just a distant similarity to players on an MLB cellar-dweller earning a Cy Young or MVP award (which happens in Chicago, a lot – Andre Dawson, Ernie Banks twice), but to the Bears it matters. Defensive end Akiem Hicks was named NFC defensive player of the week after his dominating performance in the Bears win last Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers, and he is not alone among Bears getting recognition after one of their few victories.
Never mind that the victory moved the Bears to 3-9 and came over a team losing its 11th straight game. What Hicks accomplished – two sacks, 10 tackles, a quarterback hit, a forced fumble – was being a force in the Bears’ domination of the 49ers and has been part of the emotional core of a team that has lost but not folded.
“It’s easy to say, ‘We’re not getting the results we want,’ but guys have invested,” Hicks said. “I’ve told guys, ‘just think about the hours you’ve invested, to get your body and mind ready for a 16-game season. Why would you put all that work in and then, when you don’t get the results you want, just quit?’"
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Jordan Howard is one of the nominees for the FedEx Air & Ground NFL player of the week. Howard, who posted his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the year, could be a double-winner: He also is among the nominees for Pepsi NFL rookie of the week, as is teammate Leonard Floyd (two sacks, safety, four tackles).
Voting on the latter two awards is still open.
Hicks’ play vs. San Francisco boosted him to a career-best six sacks, and he credited Bears coaches afterwards with giving him opportunities to rush the passer, not simply be utilized as a run-stopper. He has been everything and perhaps a little more than the Bears anticipated when they signed him this offseason to a two-year contract worth $10 million, with $5 million guaranteed.
“I think he's done well,” said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “It's a credit to him, a credit to Jay [Rodgers, defensive line coach]. Akiem has kept improving throughout the season, and he's been one of the guys that have been there each and every week, playing a lot of plays for us, and he's been a steady bell cow for us in there.”