Bears

Bears hire Emery as GM

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Bears hire Emery as GM

The last time Phil Emery was a member of the Bears organization, the likes of Lance Briggs, Mike Brown, Tommie Harris, Olin Kreutz, Charles Tillman and Brian Urlacher were acquired via the NFL draft.

All that is expected now is for Emery to deliver something close to that.

Emery emerged from a field of five semifinalists and two finalists to become the fifth general manager in franchise history, reaching agreement with the Bears on a multi-year contract with the prime directive of getting the Bears firmly into the ranks of the NFC elite.

Emery interviewed Friday with Bears President Ted Phillips for the second time and was then approved of by team ownership as the successor to Jerry Angelo, fired shortly after the end of the 2011 season.

The end-game selection process began with five candidates interviewing with Phillips and other members of the Bears front office: Emery, Jason Licht from the New England Patriots, the other finalist along with Emery; Jimmy Raye from the San Diego Chargers; Marc Ross from the New York Giants; and Tim Ruskell, currently Bears player personnel director. It was not immediately clear whether Ruskell will remain with the organization.

Among the major responsibilities, short term and long, waiting for Emery are the 2012 draft, in which the Bears hold four picks in the first three rounds, and free agency, in which the Bears are expected to be an impact player in search of a wide receiver.

Coach Lovie Smith is in place for this season and is under contract for 2013. Smiths future after this season will be an Emery decision in the future, including whether or not to extend Smiths contract assuming a strong 2012 season.

This will be Emerys second stint with the Bears after working as an area scout for the franchise from 1998-2004.

From 2004-08, Emery served as director of college scouting for the Atlanta Falcons. During that time, two of the three Falcons first round draft picks developed into Pro Bowlers: WR Roddy White (2005) and QB Matt Ryan (2008). Emery also worked as a regional scout for the Falcons leading up to the 2009 draft. The Falcons made two trips to the playoffs during that time including an appearance in the 2004 NFC Championship game.

Emery, a native of Michigan, is a 31-year football veteran, starting his career serving as a student assistant at his alma mater, Wayne State, before joining Central Michigan as a graduate assistant (1981-82). He went on to become the offensive linestrength and conditioning coach at Western New Mexico for three seasons (1982-84) before becoming a defensive line coach at Georgetown College from 1984-85.

Emery went on to serve as the defensive line and strength and conditioning coach at Saginaw Valley State from 1985-87 before joining Tennessee as the Volunteers assistant strength and conditioning coach from 1987-91.

His tenure at Tennessee was highlighted by back-to-back Southeastern Conference Championships in 1989 and 1990. He made his last collegiate stop as director of strength and conditioning services and as an associate professor at the U.S. Naval Academy (1991-98), where the Midshipmen won the Aloha Bowl in 1996.

NFC North standings: Bears’ division lead on life support after loss to Dolphins

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USA TODAY

NFC North standings: Bears’ division lead on life support after loss to Dolphins

A tie is all that separates the Bears from the rest of the NFC North division. Chicago’s Week 6 loss to the Miami Dolphins dropped the team to 3-2, which just barely leaves them in first place.

Because the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings tied in Week 2, they sit just behind the Bears at 3-2-1 in the division. The Week 5 bye week also kept Chicago a little bit ahead, but they’re only a game away from dropping down to third.

They still control their own destiny, but Matt Nagy will need an upset win over the New England Patriots on Sunday to maintain their leading position. The Packers are on a bye week, so they would assume first place if the Bears lose.

The Vikings take on the New York Jets for a chance to take sole possession of the NFC North crown, but Chicago is guaranteed to stay ahead of the Detroit Lions, who also have a bye week.

These early season losses are tough on a Bears team trying to grow a division lead before they take on their NFC North foes midseason. The bigger cushion they can build now, the more wiggle room they’ll have when they face the Lions, Vikings and Lions back-to-back-to-back in November.

Film review: Albert Wilson's 75-yard TD shows how Sunday was an aberration for the Bears' defense

Film review: Albert Wilson's 75-yard TD shows how Sunday was an aberration for the Bears' defense

(For a bonus film review, check out the video above of Akiem Hicks' forced fumble on the one-yard line)

When Eddie Jackson didn’t stay on top shoulder of Randall Cobb in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ season opener, there was a clear coaching point from that 75-yard backbreaking touchdown. The Bears’ defensive mantra the week after was to focus on “plastering” receivers, which this defense did a good job of over the next three weeks. 

There surely are coaching points leveled by Vic Fangio and his assistants after the Bears were carved up by Brock Osweiler and the Miami Dolphins in Sunday’s 31-28 loss in Miami. But maybe the over-arching though here is this: The Bears didn’t, during the off week, go from being one of the league’s more sure-handed tackling teams to one of the worst. 

A defense that swarmed to the ball over the first four weeks looked a step slow and frequently out of position on Sunday. The more likely explanation for that development isn’t the plot to Space Jam 3, where a group of cartoon aliens steal the athletic power of an entire defense to use for their own. More likely, it was the heat in south Florida that sapped this team’s energy over the course of a long afternoon.

In this week’s film breakdown, we’re going to look at Albert Wilson’s 75-yard touchdown, which was wildly uncharacteristic of this defense. 

Image 1: the Bears are in nickel man coverage with Wilson (red circle) lined up in the slot across from Bryce Callahan. Danny Amendola goes in motion to the boundary (green arrow), with Danny Trevathan (green arrow) following him, though safety Adrian Amos will be the guy covering the Dolphins receiver. Akiem Hicks and Jonathan Bullard are the two down linemen in the interior, with Leonard Floyd rushing from the left and Khalil Mack from the right. 

Image 2: Mack is chipped by tight end Nick O’Leary (yellow circle), with Roquan Smith (yellow arrow) responsible or covering him. Trevathan (green circle) is in space with Amos (blue circle) picking up Amendola. With Mack chipped, the Bears have three pass rushers to go against five offensive linemen. 

Image 3: There’s about 10 yards of space between Mack and Osweiler (yellow arrow) after Mack comes free of O’Leary’s chip. Trevathan (green circle) is in a good position here, with Amos (blue arrow) closing on Amendola. Wilson works into space ahead of Callahan (red arrow), while both Dolphins outside pass-catchers run go routes to clear cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Kevin Toliver II out of the play. 

Image 4: First, the white circle — Hicks had his helmet ripped off, with right tackle Jesse Davis the apparent culprit. He still manages a good pass rush against a double team that could’ve hit home, or forced Osweiler to Mack (who’s about five yards from Osweiler when the ball is released) or Floyd, had the play extended longer. Meanwhile, when the ball is released, Callahan (red arrow) and Trevathan (green arrow) are in good position to bring down Wilson, while Amos (blue arrow) is there for help if Wilson were to turn upfield to the far sideline. 

Image 5: Wilson catches the ball and goes to the far sideline, away from Callahan (red arrow) and toward Trevathan (green arrow). After O’Leary and Smith engaged, the rookie linebacker is the farthest back from the play of these three when the ball is caught. 

Image 6: Trevathan (green arrow) seems to over-commit, giving Wilson a lane toward the boundary to cut upfield. 

Image 7: Amos (blue arrow) still has a chance to bring down Wilson short of the sticks.

Image 8: Amos misses the tackle, and Trevathan is blocked by O’Leary. That leaves Jackson (yellow arrow) as the last guy who can stop Wilson from breaking this play open. 

Image 9: In missing the tackle, Amos tripped Wilson a bit, which Jackson admitted threw him off (“but that’s not an excuse for it,” he added). Wilson re-gains his balance, cuts inside, and Jackson whiffs on the tackle. 

“Probably just try to shoot my shot on the tackle instead of just guessing, just probably should have shot my shot,” Jackson said of what he felt he should’ve done differently. 

Wilson goes to the house, and the Dolphins tie the game one play after the Bears took the lead. The last image here is Wilson’s route chart from NFL Next Gen Stats, which shows just how much running he did after the catch on that play — yardage-wise, it was 71 yards, but by distance it was much further. 

“We talked about how many tackles we missed,” Jackson said. “Some of that could have really changed the momentum of the game if we would have made some of those tackles. Unfortunately, two of them resulted in big play touchdowns.”

No members of the Bears defense were willing to use the heat as an excuse, instead opting for thumb-pointing instead of blaming teammates, coaches or the sun. But there’s a good chance we look back at Week 6 in Week 10 or 11 and can say with some confidence that the Bears beat themselves more than the Dolphins did, and it’s something that hasn’t happened since. 

“We know we made mistakes, that don’t kill our confidence,” Jackson said. “That don’t kill our swagger. We know what we gotta do, we know what we gotta correct. So we come in here, we’re going to play Chicago Bears football that we’re used to playing.”