Just a recent as July many fans and football “experts” were lauding the efforts of Phil Emery–myself included. Last year he fixed the offensive line. This year, he seemingly rebuilt the defense. Everything was looking good. National football media were even saying Jay Cutler would be in running for the league MVP*. Fast forward to halftime vs Green Bay, with the Bears down 42-0, the song had changed.
Many fans and sports writers are calling for a house cleaning up at Hallas Hall. From CEO Ted Phillips down to the janitors. I think that is a little extreme. Let’s not forget everything Phil Emery has done in his short stint as General Manger. As I mentioned above, last season he revamped the entire offensive line, only keeping veteran Roberto Garza at center from the previous year. Something Jerry Angelo couldn’t seem to do. Let’s also not forget the trade for Brandon Marshall for two 3rd round draft picks. His first draft with the Bears also netted him Alshon Jeffery in the 2nd round.
I think we can officially say he whiffed on Shea McClellin. I’m not giving him any excuse on that one. More for McClellin’s personality that performance. In 2013 he drafted Kyle Long in the first round and Jordan Mills in the 5th round. They both started every game last year. Mills still hasn’t fully recovered from surgery on his foot and his production has dropped.
Hiring Marc Trestman was a curious move that most people were pleased with at the time. We liked his forthrightness and intelligence. He brought over Aaron Kromer from new Orleans and seemed to have a “big boy” offense for once. The system worked so well journeyman QB Josh McCown compiled a 13-1 TD to interception ratio while backing up Jay Cutler. That production landed McCown a started gig in Tampa Bay–ironically with ex-Bears head coach, Lovie Smith who also had Josh McCown.
In my eyes, Emery has made two mistakes. You can judge which one is worse. The #1 mistake is not franchising Jay Cutler. Nowhere last year did I see the consistency or the ability to win a big game out of him. I would give Cutler an “incomplete” for his work in this new offense. I definitely wanted to see what he could do in year 2 before I made a decision. Unfortunately, I am not the Bears GM. Emery explained he wasn’t about using the franchise tag, so then he through 7 years (3 guaranteed) at Jay instead. Ooops. Not looking so hot right now.
The other mistake, and this could be a coaching decision, is how they keep rolling out Shea McClellin even when he proves he is not getting the job done. Now I am not going to knock Emery for every bad draft pick he makes. Even the best teams only hit on around 50%. The worst part of McClellin’s game is his meek attitude. Something you just can’t have and be a successful NFL player. Not when you are playing with 21 guys who want to smash your face in. It could be Phil wants to give Shea every possibility, it could be Trestman/Tucker see something in him, or it could be coming from the McCasky’s who love his farm boy personality.
Both of those mistakes have ripple effects in the locker room. It shows that it doesn’t matter what you do, things are not going to change. It’s great when things are going well. When they are not, it goes south and it goes south fast. I can’t watch the last few weeks and not say that Trestman has lost the players. Maybe not all of them, but enough of them.
The worst part is, they are all good guys. Emery, Trestman, Jay Cutler and Shea McClellin. I’d love to have any of them over for dinner. I’d love to have them for neighbors or members of my church. Do I want them running my favorite football team? Coaching them? Being the guy to lead the offense? I can’t say I do. I think Phil is still a good GM. He knows that building the team from the line first, on both sides of the ball, is the way to go. It remains to be seen if he will be given the chance to come out of this free-fall.