Bears

Emery will not shrink from taking WR's No. 1

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Emery will not shrink from taking WR's No. 1

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.
Resolving Forte
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.

Bears film breakdown: Mitch Trubisky's amazing scramble, Marcus Cooper's soft coverage mistake

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Bears film breakdown: Mitch Trubisky's amazing scramble, Marcus Cooper's soft coverage mistake

Had Connor Barth not missed a 46-yard field goal that would've sent Sunday's Bears-Lions game into overtime, Mitchell Trubisky's 19-yard scramble on fourth-and-13 would've gone down as the biggest play the rookie quarterback made in 2017. Instead, Barth missed the kick, and the Bears couldn't force an opportunity for Trubisky to win the game in overtime.

But that scramble was incredible in its own right, even if it didn't lead to a tie ballgame and/or eventual victory. Here's how it happened:

The Lions rush three, with linebacker Tahir Whitehead (labeled No. 3 here) defending Benny Cunningham, who initially sticks in the backfield in pass protection. Detroit has four defenders playing man coverage against the Bears' four pass-catchers -- wide receiver Markus Wheaton and tight end Daniel Brown are at the top of the image, while wide receivers Kendall Wright and Dontrelle Inman are at the bottom. The Lions have three safeties playing deep with the Bears needing 13 yards to gain a first down. 

Trubisky drops back and doesn't spy anyone open. The yellow line is where the Bears have to get to for a first down, and instead of forcing a throw, Trubisky opts for a scramble drill. 

It doesn't start very well. Trubisky is pursued by defensive linemen Anthony Zettel and A'Shawn Robinson (blue arrows) and has no chance to scramble outside. There's a window created by Wheaton at the top of the screen (purple arrow) but there's no chance Trubisky could set and make that throw across his body now. Scramble it is. 

Trubisky stops on a dime and is able to avoid Zettel and Robinson, and cuts back to the middle of the field. Defensive end Cornelius Washington (red arrow) identifies where Trubisky is going and begins pursuing him. 

A hole opens up! But Washington is now quickly closing on Trubisky, who at this point still has to run about 17 yards to get the first down. It's not looking good. 

Somehow, Trubisky sheds Washington's tackle around the 42-yard line. He still has 10 yards to go, and now safety Miles Killebrew (red arrow) is closing on him. 

Killebrew overpursues to the boundary, and Trubisky is able to cut back to the middle of the field.

"He ran to my side and cut back and then made another guy miss, and I was like, oh s***, he’s really about to get this," Inman said. 

Killebrew whiffs, and Trubisky picks up the first down. 

"That’s his mentality," running back Tarik Cohen said. "Y’all got to see his mentality. That situation, fourth and 13, he’s not going down, not taking a sack, not throwing the ball away — he’s going to find a way to make a play, and he’s going to lead us to where we need to be." 

***

One of the game's most critical plays for the Bears' defense came midway through the second quarter. The Lions were backed up near their own goal line, and Leonard Floyd had just forced a Matthew Stafford incompletion with an excellent speed rush to the quarterback's blind side. The Bears defense seemed to be locking down on Detroit, and with a 10-point lead, forcing a punt here could've turned into more points by an offense that was having success in the first half. 

The Bears rush Floyd, Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks and Pernell McPhee (red circle), and have cornerback Marcus Cooper playing off Lions wide receiver T.J. Jones (orange line). Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (blue arrow) is going to sit in the flat. 

Jones gets to the sticks and sits down (orange circle), with Cooper still backpedaling. Kwiatkoski, perhaps, could've been a little deeper, but it doesn't appear that he's in the wrong spot. Also, tight end Eric Ebron has some open space just before the first-down line with safeties Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson (purple arrows) keying on him. 

The ball is in the air, and Cooper is about six yards off Jones, who's right at the first down marker. Kwiatkoski can't get to the ball, and Jones and Stafford easily converts the first down. Credit needs to be given to Jones for a savvy route and knowing exactly where he needed to go to pick up the first down. 

And this was a heck of a throw by Stafford, who in this frame is about to get hit by Goldman while Floyd is leaping to try to disrupt the throw. A good route, a great throw and poor coverage led to the Lions picking up a first down. This throw sparked something in the Lions' offense, too: Including it, Stafford had a run of nine completions in 10 attempts for 153 yards and two touchdowns before halftime. For the Bears' defense, this play was the beginning of one of the "siestas" coach John Fox said have plagued his team this year. 

***

One of the Bears' best designed and executed offensive plays on Sunday came midway through the fourth quarter in the red zone down by a touchdown.

Tre McBride was motioned to the hashmarks from the outside, and the Bears have fullback Michael Burton and tight end Adam Shaheen lined up to the field side (red circles). Zettel (yellow circle) is lined up well off left tackle Charles Leno's left shoulder. 

Trubisky sold this play well, planting his right foot and sort of turning his body toward the field. Zettel (orange arrow) bites hard on that fake and loses contain, while Shaheen, Burton and McBride (red arrows) all disguise the play as a stretch/toss to the field. Cohen (purple arrow) now has some open space to the boundary. 

In the top left corner, another player does his job to set up the play: Inman carries cornerback D.J. Hayden (blue circle) into the end zone, freeing up plenty of green grass for Cohen. Safety Quin Glover (gray arrow) now has to pursue Cohen toward the pylon. 

"(Inman) ran the DB off, so I knew I had to get to the pylon or if he’s going to meet me there first, I had to stop his feet," Cohen said. "So I gave him a hesitation move." 

That hesitation froze Glover just enough for Cohen to tee up this:

Wheeee! "I felt like I had a 44-inch vert," Cohen said. He's able to dive in the end zone and tie the game up in a critical spot. 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Did the Bears technically "win" on Sunday?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Did the Bears technically "win" on Sunday?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times) and Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap on the panel.  Kap is happy that Mitch Trubisky played ok and John Fox’s team lost again.  The panel disagrees.

Plus Leonard Floyd doesn’t have an ACL tear…. Yet. Should the Bears shut him down even if he gets good news?