Chicago Sun-Times

Bears' Emery says little -- just like a real NFL GM

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Phil Emery was doing what any other general manager with a plan does when he said virtually nothing at his introductory press conference Monday at Halas Hall. The only reason people took notice was because Emery used so many words to say it.

Exactly 6,132 words, if you're into numerical numbers. And for the record, not one of them was ''Packers.'' Not even when he was asked directly about closing the gap between the Bears and the Packers did Emery mention the Packers. Doesn't he at least deserve points for that?

While it might have been nice for Emery to throw his new-found weight around at least a little and put Lovie Smith and others in the Bears organization on notice that the status quo will not be tolerated, it was hardly a surprise that he didn't even come close.

But that's not necessarily a cause for hand-wringing and other levels of concern ranging from skepticism to a sense of impending doom that the Bears just re-hired Jerry Angelo. While there's great frustration among fans that the Bears have missed the playoffs in four of the past five seasons (they're one of only 24 teams since 1980 to do that after playing in the Super Bowl), let's not forget that Jay Cutler's broken thumb was the only reason Emery was standing at the lectern in the ''Mugs'' Halas auditorium in the first place.

His reluctance to announce he will rule with an iron fist isn't any different than the Packers' Ted Thompson when he was hired as Green Bay's general manager in 2005.

''This is not going to be where I'm walking around with a big sledgehammer like I'm ruling the roost,'' Thompson told reporters at his introductory press conference. ''This is not a democracy, but this is going to be a place where we work together. We're going to do what's good for the Green Bay Packers. It's not going to be an ego thing because personally I don't have one.''

Thompson had the authority to fire coach Mike Sherman -- it was reportedly a condition of his hiring. The Packers were coming off their fourth consecutive playoff season under Sherman at the time, but back-to-back 10-6 seasons with Brett Favre still in his prime was the reason Sherman lost his GM duties to Thompson in the first place.

But Thompson, like Emery, had no problem working with a coach he inherited.

''We'll work it out. This won't be a problem,'' said Thompson, who was Ron Wolf's right-hand man from 1992-99 and was recommended for the job by Wolf. ''I learned this a long time ago -- you can't force a player on a coach because it's not going to work. There are other ways to go about that.

''If we couldn't come to some kind of agreement, then maybe we look at some alternative -- maybe we do something different.''

When Jerry Rees was promoted to general manager by the New York Giants in 2007, he inherited Tom Coughlin, who had been signed to a one-year contract extension after the 8-8 Giants lost to the Eagles in their playoff opener.

But he supported the move to keep Coughlin. ''I'm looking forward to Tom being there for a long time,'' Reese said. And also gave a vote of confidence to struggling fourth-year quarterback Eli Manning -- though not without a subtle warning. ''Next year the 'young' tag is gone,'' Reese said.

With Coughlin and Manning, the Giants have reached the Super Bowl twice in Reese's five seasons. They upset the unbeaten Patriots in after the 2007 season and face the Patriots in the Super Bowl this week in Indianapolis.

And when it comes to saying nothing, Emery indeed learned from the best. Here's some highlights from Scott Pioli's introductory press conference with the Chiefs in 2009:

''The vision for this football team and the direction that we plan to head in is to build a football team. We built a football team in New England, and we'll build a football team here. My job is not to collect talent. It's to build a team. Individuals go to Pro Bowls. Teams win championships. That's our goal here."

''We're going to build a big, strong, fast, smart, tough, disciplined football team. We'll do that by finding big, strong, fast, smart, tough and disciplined football players.''

Pioli was taking over a team that had gone 4-12 and 2-14 in back-to-back seasons under Herman Edwards. So he had a little more room to wield a big stick.

''There needs to be some changes on this football team," Pioli said. "With the way the team performed this year and what the record is, there needs to be changes. This is going to be a team that is certainly going to transition.''

''The first thing that jumps out about a Herm Edwards team is how hard they play. Herm's players play hard. That's one of the things I really respect about Herm. He coaches with a great deal of passion as well.''

Pioli fired Edwards one week later. But his own first hire, former Bears assistant Todd Haley, already is gone. Pioli hired Romeo Crennel, who has even closer ties to Patriots coach Bill Belichick than Haley did.

The ''Patriot Way'' has an obvious allure. But on your first day on the job, it sounds like any other plan. Here's Thomas Dimitroff from his introductory press conference as the new general manager of the Atlanta Falcons in 2008:

''As far as philosophy, New England is about the team,'' Dimitroff told reporters. ''They have the right people in place who believe in one direction, and that's about winning. I also believe it's about the idea of indisputable role understanding. In New England, everyone knows what his role is. It's spelled out very very well.

''I truly believe that if you are a sound evaluator and you have sound evaluators around you and you have the right coach in position and you have an agreement between that coach and general manager, it doesn't matter who has final say -- if you have that coach and GM who are cohesive and they understand it's a group effort, because it's all about the team.''

Phil Emery couldn't have said it any better.

Well, he could have. He just didn't. For now, that's nothing to get too concerned about.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on January 31, 2012 11:44 AM.

Patriots personnel head talks about Jason Licht was the previous entry in this blog.

Chiefs denied Bears request to speak to Jim Zorn is the next entry in this blog.

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