Emery's vision is clear as new Bears GM

656716.png

Emery's vision is clear as new Bears GM

A clear vision for bringing championships to the Chicago Bears is a big reason why Phil Emery was speaking for the first time as the new general manager at Halas Hall on Monday.

Im very pumped up, Emery said with a smile to a crowded room full of reporters.

Emery made it clear that a free agency plan is the first line of business, followed by making sure the Bears are prepared for the NFL draft in April.

I have a very good feel for the composition of this draft and its strengths and weaknesses.

It was evident that Bears Chairman George McCaskey believes Emerys vision is aligned with ownership.

They have to be, McCaskey said. Ownership, president, general manager, head coach, everybody in the building has to be on the same page. You heard Phil talk about it. Hes going to speak to everyone in the building and make sure everyone is involved in moving us forward.

There was a brief moment that stuck out shortly after Emery made his opening remarks and went through the expected long list of people that helped him reach this point in his career. Emery paused, then reached down and put on his eye glasses. From that point forward he had a razor-sharp focus while laying out his plan and explaining exactly how he would accomplish his goals.

That final say bears great responsibility. Anytime youre in a leadership role there is a responsibility, but to say that Im not excited about that challenge I would be lying to you.

Emery got his start in the NFL as an area scout with the Bears from 1998-2004 before working for the Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs. He returns to Chicago after spending the past three seasons as director of college scouting with the Chiefs.

Current Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli was one of many influences Emery spoke of on Monday. Pioli and Emery worked together in recent drafts helping the Chiefs win the AFC West in 2010, the first division title for the team in seven seasons.

Now in Chicago, Emery will be tasked with restoring postseason excellence. The Bears have missed the playoffs four out of the past fives seasons following a trip to the Super Bowl in 2006. Ownership felt change was necessary this off-season and Emery provides the vision and experience the organization desires in the front office.

Its not so much what was missing, but what this candidate, our new leader brings to the table, McCaskey said. He has a very commanding presence about him.

Bears president Ted Phillips expressed how hard it is to consistently win in the NFL, but believes in Emery so much that hes counting on him to not just win one Super Bowl, but hopefully multiple championships during his tenure.

Someone asked about whether its going to be status quo, I would say absolutely not, Phillips said.

Phillips was the one who ultimately made the call on hiring Emery and now his new general manager will be calling the shots when it comes to the all-important 53-man roster.

Hes going to set high standards. Hes going to be demanding and hold people accountable, and I like that.

Bears Talk Podcast: Breaking down camp competition at wide receiver

wheaton.jpg

Bears Talk Podcast: Breaking down camp competition at wide receiver

On this week’s Bears Talk Podcast, we hear from Markus Wheaton as Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz discuss the training camp competition at slot receiver.

Boden and Stankevitz also weigh in on PFF ranking the Bears’ starting lineup 18th in the NFL, answer listener questions and add another layer of Aaron Rodgers envy.

Listen to the latest Bears Talk Podcast right here:

Can Leonard Floyd break out in 2017? The Bears like the early signs

Can Leonard Floyd break out in 2017? The Bears like the early signs

The Bears believe Leonard Floyd will make the leap from being a promising rookie to a breakout second-year player, the kind who can be a centerpiece of a defense as soon as this fall.  

The Bears in 2016 totaled 37 sacks —12th in the NFL — despite dealing with a rash of injuries and not having a standout player in terms of getting to the quarterback. Willie Young led the team with 7 1/2 sacks, which tied him for 31st in the league last year, while Floyd and Akiem Hicks each had seven. 

Sixteen players recorded double-digit sacks last year. That’s not the end-all benchmark for Floyd in 2017, but for a former top-10 pick with elite skills and, as his coaches and teammate said, the right mentality, it’s not out of the question. 

“With most players, you go from your freshman year to sophomore or rookie to second year, … it slows down, they understand it, they're not thinking, they're reacting,” coach John Fox said. “And so I'd expect that and I've seen that already even in the off-season.”

Floyd, earlier this month, talked about how much more comfortable he feels after a full year of practicing and playing at the NFL level. 

“Everything was just fast when I got here last year,” Floyd said. “This year’s it’s way slower and I feel like I’m doing pretty good this year.”

There are two issues with Floyd that won’t go away until he proves they’re not problems in the regular season, though: His weight and his concussions. 

The weight issue is one Floyd has heard for a while, joking with reporters during veteran minicamp that he was surprised it wasn’t the first thing he was asked during his session with the media. He said he “definitely gained some weight” without revealing how much he’s put on, only saying he feels like he’s in much better shape now than he was as a rookie.

“It’s like night and day compared to last year,” Floyd said. 

The concessions are a far more serious — and scary — issue given it took Floyd two months to fully recover from the second concussion he suffered in 2016. 

The Bears believe Floyd’s concussion issues are correctable, though, given they were the product of poor tackling form made worse by collisions with Hicks. The crown of Floyd’s helmet was too low, so he and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio worked with tackling dummies and sled machines in an effort to fix that issue. 

The hope is that Floyd can stay healthy and marry his skills with a better knowledge of the game to put together a breakout year in 2017. His teammates sounded confident during the offseason program that everything was falling into place for the former ninth overall pick. 

“He’s a great competitor,” Hicks said. “Great energy, fast, athletic, he’s everything you want in an outside linebacker, right? Nonstop motor — I can give you all the cliche terms, but I just feel like as far as the defensive line or an outside linebacker, another year under his belt is only going to make him better.”

Added linebacker Jerrell Freeman: “That guy is going to be good for a while.”