For the better part of his first two offseasons as Bears general manager, Phil Emery busied himself with building a championship offense around quarterback Jay Cutler. This offseason, after re-signing Cutler to a seven-year contract at the outset, the focus has been on exactly the opposite of the football from Cutler.
And the quarterback couldn’t be more pleased.
“He's doing a great job," Cutler told ChicagoBears.com during an appearance at South Shore International College Prep High School in Chicago. "Phil's always had a plan. "You can trust him that he's always going to do the best possible thing for this football team and bring some guys in that are not only good people but are going to help us out on the field. He's given us some flexibility moving forward, and I'm excited to see what he wants to do next."
That will be in the draft, although Emery’s moves have not stopped altogether after the spate of signings on defense, topped by ends Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Israel Idonije and Willie Young.
Cutler called Allen twice on the day of the news that Allen was a Bear. That excitement hasn’t waned a whole lot in the couple weeks since then.
"Jared is great," Cutler said. "When the news came down, I talked to him right away and he couldn't be more excited. I think that Phil and Cliff [Stein, finance chief] and Ted [Phillips, president] and the McCaskey family have done a great job of bringing people in that want to be Chicago Bears.
"They want to be here. Some of them have passed up more money elsewhere to come here; Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and [safety] Ryan Mundy, to name a few. I think they're going to fit in nicely with Peanut [Tillman] and Lance [Briggs]. If we get everyone to mold together, we should be good.”
One of the striking comments made by Allen on the day he was introduced at Halas Hall was that he thought the Bears closer to a championship than commonly thought. He and Cutler have that in common.
"Everyone's confident this time of the year," Cutler said. "Probably every head coach in the NFL is telling his team the same thing: 'Why not us this year? We can make it happen.'
"We've got a good group of guys. We're just got to stay positive, and keep working each and every day, especially offensively. We had a little bit of success last year. We've just got to make sure that we don't rely on last year's success and just keep working."