Phil Emery discusses the futures of Jay Cutler, Josh McCown and more

Written By Sun-Times Wire Posted: 12/03/2013, 03:02pm

Bears general manager Phil Emery held an online chat on the team’s website with fans Tuesday and offered some interesting responses to some questions.

Here are some of the highlights:

On the criticisms of defensive coordinator Mel Tucker: “Obviously coach Tucker has dealt with a lot of adversity in terms of having to deal with a lot of different working parts and players on a week-to-week basis. I think he’s a very strong communicator and motivator. The unit showed progress this past week. The defense has helped us win every game that we have won. And we are very focused just as coach Tucker is to continue to improve.”

On Marc Trestman’s decision to kick a 47-yard field goal on second down in overtime against the Vikings:  “I’m very much more focused on the improvement of our team in some key areas, No. 1 being critcial conversion downs: short-yardage situations offensively and getting off the field defensively by improving on third and fourth down. Everyone in the building is focusing on these areas to help increase our chances of winning so it doesn’t come down to a field goal.”

On defensive end Julius Peppers: “I thought Julius played his finest game this past week since I’ve been back with the Bears. It was an outstanding performance. On the plane back to Chicago I let Julius know how impressed I was with his play in the game. Obviously he’s under contract for the next two years.”

On the Bears’ salary-cap situation in 2014: “The No. 1 thing to understand is that the salary cap is exactly the same for all NFL teams. How that money is divided up among the players determines how much additional resources you have to acquire new players. So each and every contract that is signed has an impact on the plan of putting the puzzle together to build a championship team.”

On the play of Bears safeties Major Wright and Chris Conte: “Both of them have had positive outings and they’ve had games that weren’t as good, that they knew they had to improve from. They’ve had several games where they’ve made key tackles or defended passes that made a difference in the outcome of a game and us winning. There’s never been any doubt about their effort and work ethic to improve as players.”

On defensive end Shea McClellin: “I know that Shea has contributed positively to our team. We do a lot of analytics on the level of success of our units when a player is on or off the field. I know that our defense and particularly our pass rush is more successful by a wide margin when Shea is on the field than when he is off the field. Shea has the combination of very good athletic ability, play speed, work ethic and smarts that will allow him to continue to develop moving forward into his career. Due to his athleticism, Shea has that transcending ability to be successful in any scheme and that’s a big part of why we drafted him.”

On defensive end David Bass: “David’s start as a young player has been positive. He’s played the run to a good level. He’s displayed good stoutness at the point of attack. He’s also displayed good instincts. He’s made a number of plays in the backfield on reverses. We’re looking forward to his development as a pass rusher because he has all the necessary attributes of a good one. What really stands out about David physically is his total length, which will greatly enhance his development as a pass rusher.”

On using the franchise tag on quarterback Jay Cutler: “The franchise tag is a tool that’s available if both parties can’t reach an immediate agreement. It protects both the player and the team and allows you to continue to negotiate with the player knowing that you retain his rights for the upcoming season and the player knows that he will be paid within the average of the top five players at this position. The franchise tag for the quarterback position has unique challenges because the average comes out to be such a big portion of your cap and your total money available to spend on other players to acquire to help your team.

“With the franchise tag being so high for the quarterback position, to use it and not sign the individual to a long-term deal hurts the team because you lose the ability to prorate the amount of guaranteed salary over the length of the contract. Proration lowers the salary cap number in relation to that player’s contract. Obviously the lower the number in relation to the salary cap, the more players you can sign to help your team reach its goals.”

On re-signing quarterback Josh McCown: “We like both Jay and Josh and we’ll be working after the season to address both their contract situations.”

Want more? Read the full transcript HERE