If you want to put it truthfully, Phil Emery was dog shit as the general manager of the Chicago Bears. His departure wasn’t only necessary, it was welcomed.
But, to save myself from talking about how bad the Bears were in 2014 (if I had that kind of time) and the bevy of poor Emery signings that spurned the disaster, I’m going to say a few nice things about Mr. Emery.
Because yes, Phil Emery did do a couple of good things during his shaky, three-year tenure in the front office.
Of course, it’s easier to forget those things and label new GM Ryan Pace as the savior. But like it or not, there are a few Phil Emery moments that will make both Pace and new coach John Fox’s job a lot easier.
Here are the brightest ones of his otherwise forgettable reign.
Alshon Jeffery (2012 Draft, 45th overall)
Hindsight is 20/20, and in hindsight Phil Emery was a lucky bastard that Alshon Jeffery fell to him in the second round. Looking back, it really was a miraculous selection and most Bears fans invested their faith in Emery as a result.
In three short years, under the tutelage of Brandon Marshall (as much as you hate to admit it), Jeffery is a bonafide No. 1 receiver in the NFL and poised to have a true breakout season.
Kyle Long (2013 Draft, 20th overall)
As soon as Kyle Long was drafted, most Bears fans let out an audible groan because of how eerily similar Phil Emery’s initial two first-round picks were on the surface. Both Long and 2012’s top pick Shea McClellin were at positions deemed ‘unsexy’ and both were reaches according to ‘expert’ draft projections.
Looking back now, the two picks were polar opposites.
Kyle Long is one of the league’s most talented offensive linemen, a two-time Pro Bowler, and an easy fan favorite. Meanwhile, McClellin is rightfully perceived as one of the biggest Bears draft busts in recent memory.
Kyle Fuller (2015 Draft, 14th overall)
Starting to see the trend? It appears Phil Emery was only capable of hitting one good pick per draft. And in 2014, that hit was cornerback Kyle Fuller, who very good for the Bears in his rookie season.
In fact, he was probably the best defensive back on the team. I’m not sure if that speaks more to how bad the Bears secondary was or how much better Fuller was then the rest of his position group.
Regardless, the expectation is for Fuller to keep progressing as the Bears defense (let’s hope) improves under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Emery – or the coaching staff that he assembled – won’t have much to claim in Fuller’s maturation, but he’ll always be Phil Emery’s draft pick.
Matt Slauson and Ryan Mundy (2013 and 2014 free agency)
Let’s just say this – Phil Emery’s free agency misses were about 10 times worse than his draft whiffs, and that’s saying something. In three drafts, Emery primarily hit on players in the early rounds. You know, the easier part, and not the difficult part of finding late round value.
I still maintain that Matt Slauson is the #Bears best offensive lineman. He is a man. Long top notch too. Interior could be great.
— Aaron Leming (@AaronLemingNFL) August 3, 2015
It was quite the opposite in free agency, as Emery erred on basically any big-money contract he gave out. Jared Allen, Brandon Marshall, Lamarr Houston, Jermon Bushrod, Jay Cutler’s non-team-friendly deal, the list goes on.
But it’s tough to argue that two minor free agent signings – Matt Slauson and Ryan Mundy – have been good players in Chicago.
Christian Jones (2015 Draft, undrafted free agent)
We’ve been over the draft and free agency, so let’s talk about a player Phil Emery took a chance on as an undrafted free agent last year: LB Christian Jones.
I loved the move immediately. Jones was a star at Florida State, but then failed a drug test at the NFL combine and went undrafted because of it.
He’s also a prime example of Phil Emery believing in talent and not really buying into ‘outside reports.’ Though there isn’t a long list of accolades to hang the Jones hat on, in one short season he’s seen himself rise from special teams guy to potential Week 1 starter at inside linebacker.
Safety Ryan Mundy said of linebacker Christian Jones: "He's a big, strong, fast guy who can cover a lot of ground." #Bears
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) August 3, 2015
There aren’t many moves of Emery I can agree with, but believing Christian Jones had the makings of a star is definitely one of them.