By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) Phil Emery is getting a lot of credit today, for things he may or may not be accomplishing.
He’s still only the nominal General Manager right now, remember, with his power not fully vesting until the conclusion of this season. He’s a college scout brought in to be in charge of the draft, and he has not yet hired anyone to the Pro Personnel Director position, the one traditionally most active in his department for the free-agency period.
So, let’s connect the dots, here.
Emery has no real pro-scouting background, making his bones watching kids on college campuses. Lovie Smith and his recently-rearranged staff know they are safe as can be for 2012, and sources from Halas Hall describe Emery as being “a little overwhelmed” early on in his tenure.
Looks like Smith is also the de facto pro personnel guy, doesn’t it?
Great job dealing merely a pair of third-rounders for Brandon Marshall, the best wide receiver in franchise history (characteristic, troubling news from New York notwithstanding). Nice work grabbing an experienced, veteran backup quarterback. More praise to come, we hope.
But I’m pretty sure the honors are being largely misplaced, and that could mean that the very short term is the only concern. Emery was hired to have a vision for the Bears’ future – the big picture – but has little power to act on it, yet. Smith may not end up being a part of it at all, and yet he’s the strongest voice during a critical period for the franchise.
I like what’s happening so far, but we have no idea if Emery is passing on players he sees as being better fits after next year, for whatever different offensive or defensive system he may want to employ under coaches he wants to hire. If he really has a plan, and really will have power, he could be in a tricky spot right now.
If I go grocery shopping with my kids and tell them we have $100 to spend, I know what will end up in the cart before we trundle over to the checkout line: chocolate pudding, nacho cheese Doritos, Reese’s Puffs cereal, Kraft Easy Mac, frozen White Castle cheeseburgers, and a whole octopus (not kidding — don’t ask). It’s my job to ensure that the wheat bread, broccoli and baby carrots are part of the kitchen’s organizational vision, as it were.
It’s possible, too, that success next year means contract extensions for the current regime. Emery may have strong thoughts now, coming off a year without playoffs, but he may change his mind if the Bears make a real run. He also may then lack the guts or the backing from above to make changes he once believed were necessary.
This is a strange transitional place for the Bears, with their aging defense, grumpy star running back and a newly-energized passing game still having to trust a less-than-stout offensive line. Not to mention a new coordinator cleaning up toxic Mike Martz waste, and a GM who was interviewed for the position by the coach and the PR man.
It’s impossible to tell who is working by what means to what ends. However it’s happening, though, it looks good enough for the moment.
So nice going, Phil. I think.
Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of Boers and Bernstein since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.
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