Some impressions after cyber-listening to the first 40 minutes of Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery's introductory news conference:
The Bears have hired an old-fashioned grinder who presented no gimmicks and spoke extensively about his stint as a strength and conditioning coach at the Naval Academy. Close your eyes and imagine the type of person who would hold such a job -- tough, right-edged, someone who e-nun-ci-ates every syllable -- and you'll have a good idea of how Emery presented himself Monday. Like many coaches, he finished many sentences with the word "okay," as in, "We will have clear roles, okay." It's a term that reinforces a direct statement rather than seeks approval for a theory. He said he is looking for players and employees with "good back-boned toughness" and left little doubt about his authority when he said he has "full control" over the 53-man roster.
Emery laid out a clear vision for how he will run the Bears' front office, saying he will set a standard for all employees to "develop expertise in their roles." Only then will they have an opportunity for advancement. "That will permeate throughout or organization," he said. "Meeting the standard for of being an expert in your role."
As a scout and later a college scouting director, Emery said he spent anywhere from three to seven days at home per month during the fall. (And, yes, I got the feeling he sat down and counted. Such is his apparently precise nature.) He can't possibly follow that schedule as a general manager, but for now his plan is to spent the early portion of the week at Halas Hall and then scout college games on Thursdays and Saturdays. "I want to get my eyes on players," he said.
Speaking generally about the type of player that stands out to him, Emery said: "They dominate others. ... This is a big man's game. ... There are smaller players that have had success, but overall, history will show you this is a big man's game." I took that as another example of his traditional background and approach.
Emery said he considers himself a "teammate" of coach Lovie Smith and is "here to help him." Basically, that means Emery is Smith's boss in an administrative sense but isn't inclined to exercise that authority on Day 1.
Emery clamped down on a number of specific questions, from what he considered the Bears' roster needs to whether he would put the franchise tag on tailback Matt Forte. As many other general managers in today's NFL would agree, Emery said he won't give away the "competitive advantage" of his assessment and plans. I'll say the same thing I've said when similar sentiments have been expressed by other organizations. There's no reason to announce that you're not going to provide details on your operation. Just answer the questions as you see fit. You accomplish your goal of protecting information without calling the attention of fans and/or media members who want more.
Although he wouldn't discuss his plans for Forte, Emery did reveal a solid mental file of his pre-draft interview with him five years ago. "He struck me as a fine person," Emery said, "who comes from a good family."
My sense is that the Bears aren't going to reinvent the wheel under Emery's leadership. They're going to work through traditional channels and expect his process and expertise to bring them better results. And there's nothing wrong with that.