Grantland: Phil Emery a 'great modern GM'

As we've noted before, there are some inherent similarities in the ascendance and early tenures of NFC North general managers Ted Thompson and Phil Emery. Both men have backgrounds as beat-the-bushes scouts, both returned to their current franchises after working elsewhere, and both fired the incumbent coach after one year.

But I think we can all agree that the comparisons should end there. While we all have a pretty good idea of how Thompson operates the Green Bay Packers -- yea on the draft, nay on free agency -- Emery has broken free of any stereotype with the Chicago Bears that his scouting background might have carried.

How does Emery operate? Grantland.com's Bill Barnwell offers us a pretty thorough analysis, focusing on four aspects that stand out: Public engagement, a clear plan, embracing the unknown, and a willingness to use "nontraditional" aids such as advanced math to make decisions.

"By virtue of his background, his work ethic, his brainpower, and his open-mindedness," Barnwell writes, "Emery gets himself ahead of the curve … that stand out as tenets of what a great modern GM should embody."

That's pretty high praise for a general manager who has been on the job for 19 months and faces a defining list of roster decisions in the next month. In the end, I think Barnwell's big-picture point is that Emery seems to embrace every possibility for team-building, eschewing nothing and yet having the courage to make unconventional decisions. Emery has developed an ideal process, Barnwell argues, independent of whether it leads to immediate success.