By Steve Silverman-
(CBS) The NFL has become a win-now business.
There are no do-overs and second chances only come after a team has known success initially.
Suffer through a losing season and a head coach will find that his second year is a very uncomfortable season.
Bring in ordinary talent in the draft that either fails or needs years to develop and a general manager will have to look over his shoulder quickly.
Phil Emery faces major pressure in the NFL Draft this weekend. This is his second draft and he did not “wow” the crowd with his work the first time around.
Shea McClellin was not a failure as a first-round selection, but he did not establish himself as a starter and an impact player. He’s strong and quick enough to win the battle and McClellin must come through in his second year or it will bring about significant questions of Emery as a personnel analyst.
Emery would like to turn the 20th pick in the first round into two or three picks because he needs to get Marc Trestman talent that can contribute right away.
Emery doesn’t have to work with Lovie Smith any more. The Bears play in an NFL where the passing game is the key and unless you can throw the ball all over the lot and do it with ease, you are not going to win.
Overpowering defensive teams no longer exist. You can’t hope to shut down the best offensive teams and beat them into submission. Instead, you make a stop at a key point in the game or you take the ball away when the game is on the line.
The best offenses are too sophisticated and talented to beat consistently.
Emery subscribes to this new NFL, and so does Trestman. That means the Bears have to concentrate on offense in this draft.
They have done fairly well in adding talent to the offensive line during free agency – Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson – but that area cannot be ignored. Emery does not have to look to the offensive line with his first-round draft choice, but he must address it at some point, particularly in the second- and third-rounds.
If Emery does not trade his first-round pick, he must come up with a starter. That didn’t happen last year and it was a big problem for his predecessor, Jerry Angelo.
The Bears have been horrendous in the first-round since their selection of defensive tackle Tommie Harris from Oklahoma in 2004.
The names have been nightmarish since then.
- 2005, Running back Cedric Benson – Awful.
- 2007, Tight End Greg Olsen – Talented, but never used correctly.
- 2008, Offensive tackle Chris Williams – Back breaker (and back broken).
- 2011, Offensive tackle Gabe Carimi – Reclamation project.
There’s no question as to why the Bears have been to the playoffs once since their appearance in Super Bowl XLI following the 2006 season.
They have done poorly in the draft overall and they have failed miserably in the first round.
There’s more pressure on general managers than ever before. Great teaching coaches used to be able to work with players extensively in training camp and practice. There are limitations on hitting and live practice time that prevent players from improving as much as they used to.
Teaching may not be Trestman’s strength. He is an offensive football theorist who wants to out-scheme his opponents. When it comes to teaching offensive players how to do their jobs better – especially non-quarterbacks – Trestman doesn’t strike me as a hands-on guy who will improve technique.
He is not Bill Parcells or Jimmy Johnson, who would correct practice-field mistakes on the spot.
Emery has to hit a home run in this draft and give Trestman at least two regular starters. At least one of those players must come on the offensive side.
If he can’t reach that limited level of success, Emery may be on the road to failure.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman was with Pro Football Weekly for 10 years and his byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Playboy, NFL.com and The Sporting News. He is the author of four books, including Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football — The Top 60 Players of All-Time. Follow him on Twitter (@profootballboy) and read more of his CBS Chicago columns here.