Chicago Sun-Times

Phil Emery on Lovie Smith: "What's not to like?"

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Bears general manager Phil Emery already has a history with coach Lovie Smith. As a scout for the Bears, Emery was on Jerry Angelo's staff from 1998 to 2004. His final season -- before heading to the Atlanta Falcons as a college scouting director -- was Smith's first as Bears coach.

"I got to know him and really gained an appreciation for him during that draft process," Emery said of Smith. "He's everything that he was then. He's extremely earnest person. He loves people. He loves players, and they love him. He has a scheme, and a system and a plan. I mean, what's not to like?

"He's been a demonstrated winner. Great stability, great family, players love playing for him," Emery said. "He's the best recruiter in the NFL, when it comes to the unrestricted free agents, and college free agents. You have Lovie call them, and you know they're going to be interested in becoming a Bear."

Jason Campbell, in fact, told me as much. Campbell still had prospects of becoming a starter, but he didn't want to wait and miss a chance to join Smith's team.

Bears president Ted Phillips made clear to GM candidates that Smith would remain for at least the 2012 season. After that, Emery can choose who will be the head coach. Some NFL general managers prefer to have "Their Guy," resistant to inheriting someone at that key position.

Does that matter to Emery?

"No, not at all. I'm more caught up in the person that Lovie is, and he's a guy I want to be around," Emery said. "That's the key. I want to be around him, and, as I told him, 'I want to do my part for you, so we can all be successful.'

"To me, it's about helping him have the right players on the field, that are going to match his schemes and allow him to coach to his full efficiency, so we can win on the field.

"I feel very fortunate. I don't know why anybody would look at that as a negative. As a first-time GM, having been through several coaching changes as a scout and as a coach, I know how disruptive that is. You can't ever be afraid to make a change, if you know it's going to be disruptive. However, I think I walked into a very good situation with Lovie Smith as our head coach. I mean, he's a dean in the NFL for a reason. You don't stay as long as you, at any one club if there aren't a lot of high quality attributes as a person that allows you to still be competing and working toward victories."

I asked Emery if there is something he's looking for from Smith during this season, during this "test phase."

"I don't look at it as a test phase," Emery said. "Lovie Smith is our head coach. We need to make progress toward our goal, which is winning championships. That's how I'm going to be judged, that's how everybody in the building is going to be judged. He understands he's under that same umbrella. We're all going to be judged on our progress toward championships, and consistency to be in the mix to win championships."

Smith has a contract that runs through 2013. Smith insisted to me that his status doesn't matter and that he feels the full support of the organization and ownership.

"Even if I was in the final year of my contract, what changes? If something changes, it would say, 'You have to be in the last year of your contract to really do a good job and do your best job of coaching.' No. You coach the same way," Smith said. "Matt Forte just signed a big contract. We have a lot of guys with big, secure contracts. They're not playing any different then how they were playing when they were trying to get that contract. That's when you're putting certain type guys on your roster, character guys, and it doesn't affect anything."

Asked about Smith's contract expiring in 2013, Emery said, "My mind is not around that.

"It's around the team and now. We're all going to be judged by the same standards. That's the standard I put myself on. At the end of that process, we'll move forward, with where we're at.

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SEAN: Thanks for reporting Phil Emery's thoughts on the subject of Lovie Smith. I believe Emery is a totally up-front guy, so your report is illuminating. Keep these kind of reports coming. Real information like this is a breath of fresh air in today's blog-o-sphere.
Also like the updates on the condition of Podlesh and Hardin. Have been looking for something for over 36 hours. Looking forward to something on Conte.

I'm not as down on Lovie as many others on this blog are. I think he's a good coach, but could benefit from a stronger and better GM like Emery. Additionally, I'm not sure there are really that many good candidates out there who could replace Lovie and bring improvement to the Bears.

Gruden? Please. I love the guy, but don't think he's an upgrade. His ego always gets in the way and he neglects defense.

Cowher? Come on - fans in Pittsburgh wanted his head before the NFL referees HANDED him the SB against Seattle. Not an upgrade.

Jim Harbaugh? He's not available.

Billick, Fassell, Weise, et al. - Let's get serious, people. Fact is, there really aren't any other truly proven and viable HC candidates to replace Lovie.

The man has made mistakes with assistants for sure, but he's done a better job than most. As Tom Waddle says, "He's an above average coach." - IMO that's better than 3/4 of the coaches in the league.

I didn't hate Angelo either, although there's no question he neglected roster issues at WR, OL, and backup QB for so long, it finally ruined an entire season. It was definitely time for a change there.

Let's see how the Bears do this season.

"Gruden? Please. I love the guy, but don't think he's an upgrade. His ego always gets in the way and he neglects defense."

Ha, Gruden is Bizzaro Lovie. Lovie ignors the offense as much as Gruden ignores the defense. Neither has much to do with their opposing sides of the ball. Gruden is a spazz, Lovie is mellow yellow, Gruden can't get enough of the Camera, Lovie hates it. Lovie is NyQuil, Gruden is Caffeine. They should do a commercial, Lovie for NyQuil and Gruden for DayQuil.

I would like the next coach of the Bears not to be a Lovie or a Gruden type. In that I mean neither was an inovator. In fact the Bears would not know a talented Coach if Wlash walked in the door. Basically they wait about 10 years, look at an esablished system and try and find someone who works in that system. They wanted the Tampa 2 and went out and got a Tampa two guy. But they would never have hired a Bill Belichick. Cause they can't spot talent, they can only spot an esablished system which anyone can do. Halas was an inovator, so was Ryan and the Bears need someone who can find a guy like that. So far Emery has brought in Bates who Cutler wanted 3 years ago, not really his idea. By the way look how long the Bates thing took for Emery. If Lovie ever retires or gets fired which there is a chance, then I am all for Toub who is a special teams inovator.

Toub is an intriguing prospect for coach. I worry a bit about the "Peter Principal" in his case, but there is no doubt he is THE BEST special teams coach in the league.

I dunno, Lovie's losing seasons in Chicago were riddled with bad assistant adjustments (his fault) - but also player injuries (not necessarily his fault). As a result, I find it difficult to measure his performance - especially since he's brought more success to the Bears than his two predecessors (Jauron and Wandstedt).

I am excited for the season. I guess we'll all wait and see what happens in 2013.

I am also praying that Urlacher can play. I am starting to wonder if he'll even be available.

II completely agree with Creighton, Toub is the one that will be an exceptional Head Coach. Take a look at Harbaugh in Pittsburgh a very good example of a Special Teams guy moving into the number 1 role as Coach.

Toub is creative, exceptionally smart, his special teams guys love him and play their hearts out. His special teams always are in the top of the league.

Toub needs a shot, Lovie has been mediocre as a head coach. Not a great one at all.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Jensen published on August 20, 2012 10:50 AM.

Phil Emery says Bears will be "patient" with J'Marcus Webb was the previous entry in this blog.

Bears, Jay Cutler bracing for big test vs. Giants is the next entry in this blog.

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