The Phil Emery Era begins officially on Monday afternoon at Halas Hall as the Bears install the one individual calculated to have the greatest single influence on the Bears on-field future.
For the moment, however, a significant look is to the past, as it was for President Ted Phillips and the organization over the past few weeks. The decision that Emery was the man for the Bears future was based on his past, what hes done or whats happened where hes been besides character traits and what he saw as the directions to be followed if he were the choice for general manager.
Keys to Emerys future (really, anyone's for that matter) lie in his past, whether as a tough, disciplined strength and conditioning coach at the Naval Academy or as a college scouting director in the NFL.
General managers bring definite philosophies to their courses of talent action, beyond the obvious quest for greatness in players.
Jim Finks focused on tackles and quarterback on offense, reasoning that the end game was to secure the triggerman and also elite protection for that individual. Consequently there was a premium on tackles like Ron Yary in Minnesota with a No. 1-overall pick, and Dennis LickTed Albrecht (1976-77) and Keith Van HorneJimbo Covert (1981, 1983) with first-rounders.
Finks built the Vikings defense on the foundation of Carl Eller and Alan Page, both No. 1s.
Jerry Angelo had a propensity toward linemen with first picks of drafts at Tampa Bay and Chicago, albeit with a far sparser success rate than Finks.
Wide receivers as draft targets
While Emery was a top figure in college scouting for Atlanta, the Falcons went principally after impact players on offense. They chose wide receivers with late No. 1s in consecutive drafts: Michael Jenkins No. 29 in 2004 (after cornerback DeAngelo Hall at No. 8) and Roddy White at No. 27 in 2005.
Defensive end Jamaal Anderson was a bust at No. 8 overall in 2007 but the Falcons scored in 2008 with quarterback Matt Ryan at No. 3 overall. The Falcons traded up to get USC tackle Sam Baker in 2009 and got a marginal starter.
Angelo disliked drafting wide receivers with high picks because of the too-freequent bust factor. David Terrell (2001, No. 8 overall) and Mark Bradley (2005, second round) supported his beliefs.
But Emery comes from the Kansas City Chiefs and GM Scott Pioli most recently, where a central figure on offense has been wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, the 23rd overall pick of the pre-Emery 2007 draft.
Bowe is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The Bears have been willing to invest heavily in free agent receivers (Muhsin Muhammed, 2005) and Bowe is substantially above what Muhammed was at the time of his becoming a Bear.
And Kansas City used their first pick (26th overall) in the 2011 draft on Jonathan Baldwin, a wide receiver from Pittsburgh. Baldwin missed time early with a broken thumb suffered in training camp.
Notably perhaps are the types of wideouts his teams have drafted with Emerys involvement: Jenkins, 6-4; White, 6-0; Baldwin, 6-4. And Bowe is 6-2.
Emery also was with the Chiefs in December 2010 when they gave running back Jamaal Charles a multi-year deal that included 13 million guaranteed in various forms. That deal was one standard of measure for the not-accepted offer made to Matt Forte prior to the 2011 season.
The franchise tag remains the likely option in Fortes case. Only speculation here, but Emery also saw the fragility of a running back when Charles was lost for the season after one week. Chances would seem marginal at best that Emery would be inclined to pay Forte more than Angelo was offering and substantially more than the Chiefs paid Charles, a three-time Pro Bowler.