Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 4/21/12
If Bears fans didn’t know who Phil Emery was three months ago, they do now.  A little less than 100 days into his tenure, he has already made this one of the busiest off seasons in recent memory.  Let’s examine the moves that have been made and how they will impact the upcoming 2012 season

 COACHING STAFF

One of the stipulations when Emery took the job was that he would have to work with Lovie Smith for at least the 2012 season.  Most General Managers when they come in want to bring in their own guy to be the head coach.  Thus far the Emery and Smith dynamic seems to be clicking.  Emery allowed Smith to keep full control of his coaching staff.  Lovie responded quickly by making some much needed changes.  He and Mike Martz parted ways due to what was called a difference in philosophy.  That difference was that Martz’s offense was getting the franchise quarterback killed and Lovie realized that the architect of the “Greatest Show On Turf” had to go.  Mike Tice was promoted to the position and promises to bring a more balanced and conventional approach on offense.  Next Jeremy Bates was hired as the Quarterbacks Coach, a move that made Cutler happy.  Bates was the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator in Denver when Cutler had his best season in 2008 and made the Pro Bowl.  Tim Holt, who spent the past three seasons with Tampa Bay, was hired to be the new offensive line coach.  He will take over a unit that was one of the most scrutinized in the league.  Finally a signing that must not go unmentioned was Special Teams Coach Dave Toub who signed a two year deal.  Toub, who interviewed with the Dolphin’s for their head coaching position will come back and lead one of the best units in the NFL.

TRADES

Heading into the March free agency period all the talk was of getting Jay Cutler more dynamic weapons to throw to on the outside.  The Bears were expected to be major players for guys like Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, Steve Johnson and Vincent Jackson.  But in his biggest move yet, Emery pulled off a trade to acquire Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall for a third round draft pick in 2012 and a third round pick in 2013.  The trade re-unites Cutler and Marshall who formed a lethal passing combination in Denver.  Here is a stat that speaks to the chemistry these two had in Denver: Cutler targeted Marshall an NFL-high 179 times in 2008, 33 more times than any other QB-WR combo that season.  Over his six-year career Marshall has racked up 494 catches for over 6,000 yards and 34 touchdowns.  Marshall instantly upgrades the wide receiver position and makes everyone else around him better because of the attention he demands.  Someone must have shown Emery the Twitter exchange the two had back in January:

@JayCutler6
I can get #15 out of storage! Suit you back up. RT @BMarshall19: I miss @jaycutler6believing in me like that. Jan 08

@JayCutler6
Please. We can run circles around these guys. RT @BMarshall19: @JayCutler6these young duos r the old us. Haha #chemistryJan 08

@JayCutler6
Let's do it! RT @TTidd94: @JayCutler6i think its time to get the cutler/marshall duo back together in the windy city Jan 08


Regardless of the fun they had using social media the point is when Emery came on board Cutler spoke and Emery listened.  Take notes Jerry Angelo.

 
FREE AGENCY

Emery has made several key acquisitions during the free agency period.  Do something that was sorely needed by adding depth and competition at several key positions.
  • QB – Jason Campbell – Signed one-year contract – Campbell shores up the backup quarterback position and is a major upgrade from Caleb Hanie.  If you watched how the Bears season unfolded after Cutler went down to injury you know why this signing was huge.  Having a solid backup is a must in the NFL and Emery recognized that.  Campbell is a talented seven year veteran with a strong arm who could run the offense should Cutler go down again.
     
  • RB – Michael Bush – Signed four-year contract – With Matt Forte being franchise tagged and the threat of a holdout looming, Emery did what any good general manager would and made sure he had insurance.  Bush is a load at running back.  He was one of the better backups in the league the last four years and gained a career high 977 yards rushing and seven touchdowns in a starting role last season when Darren McFadden went down with injury.  When Forte hits the field they will form a potent 1-2 punch in the backfield.
     
  • KR-PR-WR – Eric Weems – Signed three-year contract – Weems is a special teams ace and has become a feared return man.  With the status of Johnny Knox unknown, this was a solid signing.  He will handle the kickoff duties and allow Devin Hester to focus on punt returns.
     
  • WR –Devin Thomas – Signed one-year contract – Thomas a former second round pick of the Washington Redskins in 2008 may have saved his career last season with the Giants.  Once a highly touted prospect at the wide receiver coming out of Michigan State, Thomas recovered two key fumbles for New York in last season's NFC Championship Game against San Francisco.  The one hope here is that Thomas is finally able to reach his potential as a wide receiver and contribute.  He and Weems will help fill the void left by Pro Bowl special teamer Corey Graham who signed with the Baltimore Ravens.
     
  • OL – Chilo Rachal – Signed one-year contract – Emery knows that the offensive line needs help so he added some depth with this signing.  Rachal, 26, was the 39th overall pick in the 2008 draft out of USC, where he was a first-team All-Pac 10 performer. He started 38 games in four seasons with the 49ers, including 29 in 2009 and 2010.  Rachal was considered a top run blocking guard in 2010 according to Pro Football Focus.  This also gives the Bears some versatility of maybe moving Chris Williams back to left tackle.
     
  • LB –Blake Constanzo – Signed two-year contract – Another signing that will make Special Teams coach Dave Toub smile.  Constanzo is considered one of the better core special teams performers in the league.  He finished second on the San Francisco 49ers with 17 tackles on special teams this past season, and added four more in the playoffs.  Against the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs he forced one fumble on special teams and recovered another.  He also adds depth to an aging linebacker group. 
     
  • LB –Geno Hayes – Signed one-year contract – Another good signing by Emery as Hayes adds not only depth but he has some talent too.  Hayes experience in the Cover-2 defense was also part of the attraction here.  He was a starter for Tampa Bay for 13 games last season, finishing third on the team with 86 tackles and he also had an interception.  Hayes, 24, will likely back up Lance Briggs on the weak side, but could get an opportunity to compete for the strong-side job with Nick Roach.
     
  • CB – Kelvin Hayden – Signed one-year contract – Bears fans will remember Hayden most for his interception of Rex Grossman that he took 56 yards for a touchdown in the Super Bowl against the Bears.  Emery realizing that cornerback depth is a little scarce made the move to sign Hayden.  His experience in the Cover-2 defense in Indianapolis was also key.  Hayden is a bigger corner at 6-feet, 195 pounds.  In a division that features Calvin Johnson, having a bigger cornerback helps.  If he can stay healthy, and that is the caveat, he should come in and compete with Tim Jennings for the number two cornerback spot behind Peanut Tillman.
     
  • CB –Jonathan Wilhite – Signed one-year contract - Wilhite spent last season with the Denver Broncos, playing in 15 games, starting two. He had 26 tackles, two sacks and one interception.  He adds depth with the departure of Zach Bowman to Minnesota.
 
Emery also made sure he took care of current Bears by resigning Israel Idonije, Craig Steltz, Tim Jennings, Josh McCown and Kellen Davis, all key contributors.  Davis being the most intriguing as both Lovie Smith and Jay Cutler believe he can be a big weapon at the tight end position.  In Martz’s offense the tight end’s main responsibility was to block, so Davis was never able to prove he can be a threat as a pass catcher.  Mike Tice promises to change that.  Davis has all the physical tools to be a threat, now he has to go out and show it on the field.  The biggest in house signing though was Emery extending the contract of Lance Briggs.  The extension will lock Briggs in through the 2014 season.  This was important as Briggs began to grumble about his contract towards the end of last season.  This will keep him happy and quiet and allow him to focus on what he does best, play football. 
 
In less than 3 months Phil emery has done what had not been done in Chicago for the past several years, added much needed depth at all positions on the team.  The next big challenge for Emery and his staff is the upcoming NFL Draft.  I fully expect him to make good on his promise of building through the draft and the Bears raising their own.  A formula that breeds success.  If the moves he has made thus far are any indication, expect the draft weekend to be just as busy as he continues to build the Bears into consistent Super Bowl contenders.
 
 

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