Bears

Emery's vision is clear as new Bears GM

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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' Anthony Miller earning Mitch Trubisky’s trust at the right time

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USA Today

Bears' Anthony Miller earning Mitch Trubisky’s trust at the right time

With Mitch Trubisky playing tentatively at times this season, the automatic assumption was that the problem was entirely with the Bears quarterback.

That’s not entirely true.

“Don’t surprise your quarterback” is a wide-receiver commandment, and the fact is that Trubisky was hampered early this season by his receivers’ poor routes, drops or both all too often. That led to sacks, incompletions and interceptions.

Anthony Miller, for instance, was called out for running an improper route against the Rams in Week 10 that resulted in an interception. That was, however, the moment when a light appeared to go on for the second-year receiver. His subsequent increase in targets indicates that Trubisky is trusting him more. Miller was targeted 30 times over the season’s first nine games, 37 times over the past four. In the Bears’ win over Detroit on Thanksgiving, Miller was targeted a season-high 13 times. He caught nine of those throws for 140 yards.

“I think with every receiver, the timing and the trust comes with experience,” head coach Matt Nagy said going into the Dallas game. “There's a little bit of trust that gets earned over time. So the more plays you have with that guy, the more trust you'll get in particular routes.”

Miller’s emergence over the past month has offset Taylor Gabriel’s diminished presence due to concussion issues. Plus, the early success of newfound tight ends J.P. Holtz and Jesper Horsted has given Nagy more play-calling options.

And all the Bears’ pass catchers are doing a better job of, well, catching passes. Every one of the team’s nine main pass receivers has a catch percentage 60 percent or higher. Last year Trubisky’s targets included Josh Bellamy (56 percent), and star receiver Allen Robinson was sub-60 (58.5 percent).

“Going back to last year, it was our first year in this offense,” Nagy said. “All these routes and the different coverages you get take time. So, yeah, there's a little bit of trust that gets earned over time. It's starting to develop more and more with more receivers on our team.”

None more than with Anthony Miller.

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Wild-Card Race: What Bears fans should be watching in Week 15

Wild-Card Race: What Bears fans should be watching in Week 15

The Bears didn't get the help they needed in Week 14 from teams like the Lions (against the Vikings) or Seahawks (against the Rams), but they did win their game against the Cowboys and improved to 7-6 on the season.

As a result, Chicago is still alive entering Week 15's game against the Packers. Green Bay's win over the Redskins, one which improved their record to 10-3, all but ended the slim hopes that the Bears could make a run for the NFC North, but it doesn't lessen the importance of Sunday's rivalry game.

You know the story by now. Chicago needs to win out in order to have any chance at a post-season berth. And even then, their chances aren't great. They're hovering around 5%, depending on which source of playoff odds you use.

Here's the thing: If the Bears just keep winning, their playoff odds will keep going up. They'll need some help, and they'll need the Rams and Vikings to slip up along the way, but all Matt Nagy, Mitch Trubisky and Khalil Mack can control right now is winning this Sunday.

In the meantime, here are the other games Bears fans should keep a close eye on.

Minnesota Vikings (9-4) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (5-8)
3:05 p.m. CST
CBS

The Vikings and Bears play in the season finale but Chicago needs Minnesota to lose at least one more time before Week 17 to give the game any meaning. If the Vikings enter that game with five losses and the Bears do their part to topple Kirk Cousins and the rest of Minnesota's cast of characters, they'll own the head-to-head tiebreaker for the sixth and final wild card.

Unfortunately, the Chargers don't inspire much confidence that that fifth and necessary loss will come on Sunday. But as Phillip Rivers proved in Week 14's 45-point output against the Jaguars, there's always a chance for Los Angeles to outplay their record.

Los Angeles Rams (8-5) at Dallas Cowboys (6-7)
3:25 p.m. CST
FOX

The biggest blow to the Bears' playoff chances in Week 14 may have happened in Los Angeles where the Rams defeated the Seahawks in a game many assumed Seattle would win. Now 1.5 games ahead of Chicago, L.A. has a very winnable game in Dallas against a team that's spiraling out of control. This, combined with the Rams' finding their offensive mojo once again suggests another victory for Los Angeles.

If they secure the win, the Bears would need Jared Goff and Aaron Donald to lose their final two games and end the year at 9-7. If the Rams end the season with the same record as Chicago, they'll own the head-to-head tiebreaker because of their win over the Bears in Week 11.

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