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 add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

Bears add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

John Fox and the Bears have added another assistant coach.

Zack Azzanni is leaving the University of Tennessee to become the Bears' new receivers coach.

Azzanni has been with Tennessee since 2013 as a receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Prior to that, he spent time at Wisconsin, Western Kentucky, Florida, Central Michigan and six seasons at Bowling Green.

Azzanni was on Urban Meyer's coaching staff at Bowling Green in 2001-02 and also coached Pittsburgh Steelers superstar receiver Antonio Brown at Central Michigan. Under Azzanni's tutelage at CMU from 2007-09, Brown totaled 305 receptions for 3,199 yards and 22 TDs, earning a sixth-round draft selection in 2010.

Curtis Johnson spent 2016 as his first season in the role of Bears' wide receivers coach, but announced he was leaving after the Senior Bowl to take a job with the New Orleans Saints.

It's unknown if Azzanni will get a chance to coach Alshon Jeffery (who is currently a free agent) but the incoming coach will have an important job in molding young receivers like Kevin White and Cameron Meredith.

The Bears also announced the additions of assistant coaches Brandon Staley and Derius Swinton II Wednesday morning:

Staley will replace Clint Hurtt as outside linebackers coach and Swinton will be the assistant special teams coach under Jeff Rodgers.

Swinton is reprising his role he held on the Bears coaching staff in 2015 before leaving to take a promotion with the San Francisco 49ers special teams. 

Hurtt left the Bears to take a position as the defensive line coach with the Seattle Seahawks. Staley spent last season as the defensive coordinator at Division-III John Carroll University, the alma mater of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Hall of Fame coach Don Shula.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will there be any takers for Bears QB Jay Cutler?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will there be any takers for Bears QB Jay Cutler?

In the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Hub Arkush (670 The Score/Pro Football Weekly) and Brian Hedger (NHL.com) join Kap on the panel.

ESPN is reporting that the Bears have begun shopping Jay Cutler. Will there be any takers? 

Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler doesn’t think he’s going anywhere. Would that be a mistake?

Miguel Montero makes his peace with Joe Maddon but was this even a big deal? Sammy Sosa says he put Chicago on the map, and compares himself to Jesus. When he will the Cubs welcome him home?

Plus, Pat Boyle drops by to talk Blackhawks and the “Roly Poly Goalie” is looking for work all because he ate a pie.

Check out the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: