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.

Revisiting Jimmy Graham's contract after George Kittle, Travis Kelce extensions

Revisiting Jimmy Graham's contract after George Kittle, Travis Kelce extensions

The tight end market has officially been reset. 

George Kittle (49ers) and Travis Kelce (Chiefs) each inked massive new extensions on Thursday that will make them the highest-paid players at their position by a wide margin.

Kittle signed a five-year, $75 million extension while Kelce put pen to paper on a four-year, $57 million deal.

Suddenly, Jimmy Graham's two-year, $16 million deal doesn't seem so bad. Then again, you get what you pay for, right?

Graham joins the Bears after a 2019 season in Green Bay that totaled 38 catches for 447 yards and three touchdowns. Compare those numbers to Kelce, who had 97 catches for 1,229 yards and five scores in 2019, and Kittle, who had 85 catches for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns, and it's easy to understand why they're nearly doubling Graham's annual average salary.

Does Graham have enough left in the tank to justify his $8 million per year paycheck? He's earning more than players like Jared Cook (Saints) and Darren Waller (Raiders), who each flashed more playmaking upside than Graham in 2019.

The good news for the Bears is that they'll be out of the tight end market for a while, assuming second-round pick Cole Kmet lives up to his scouting report. He'll be a cheap starter on a rookie contract for the next four seasons.

Hopefully, we'll be talking about Kmet as one of the highest-paid players at the position when his second deal rolls around. Until then, it's Kittle and Kelce who rule the tight end universe.

Bears were among worst teams on fourth-down decisions last season

Bears were among worst teams on fourth-down decisions last season

Matt Nagy's reputation for being an innovative offensive mind took a hit last season when the Bears finished the year ranked 26th in passing yards, 27th in rushing yards, and 27th in total touchdowns.

To make matters worse, Nagy was also among the league's worst decision-makers on fourth down, according to Pro Football Focus.

PFF used the following qualifiers to evaluate which teams made the most of their fourth-down situations last year:

To these aims, we looked at all fourth-down plays in the first three quarters during the 2019 season that met the following criteria: 1) there were four or fewer yards to go for a first down or a touchdown, and 2) the expected points when going for it were higher than when kicking a field goal (with 35 or fewer yards to go to the end zone) or punting (36 or more yards)

The Bears whiffed on 75% of their fourth-down calls and left 12 additional points on the board, according to PFF's metrics.

Chicago lost two games by three points or less in 2019, so it isn't like Nagy's failures on fourth down prevented this team from winning 12 games. That said, could the Bears have reached nine or even 10 wins and been in a better position to make the playoffs had they flipped fourth downs into points? It's possible.

There's another factor that has to be considered that extends beyond Nagy's playcalling, however. Let's face it, He didn't have the players needed to attempt fourth-down conversions with confidence. Mitch Trubisky was barely watchable and David Montgomery didn't get much help from his offensive line. The offense ranked as low as it did for a reason; it just wasn't very good.

I'd expect some positive regression with the Bears' fourth-down efficiency in 2020, which should mean more points and maybe, just maybe, more wins.

 

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