clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Five reasons Bears GM Phil Emery had to go

Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery was fired Monday morning after only three years on the job.

The Bears failed to make a playoff appearance in any of those seasons, which was more a byproduct of his tenure as GM than the reason he was fired.

Here are the five reasons Emery was cut loose:

1. Hiring Marc Trestman

Emery fired Lovie Smith after a 10-6 season, which meant he had to hit a home run on his replacement. You can’t fire a 10-6 coach and go 13-19 in the next two seasons and expect to keep your job.

The real sin of the Trestman hire, though, was the decision to pass on Bruce Arians. The reigning coach of the year with the Colts, Arians was the obvious choice for the Bears. Emery gave Arians a slew of unnecessary conditions, though, and ultimately decided to look elsewhere.

The Cardinals ended up hiring Arians, and that marriage seems to be working out well.

I can support a general manager’s decision to take a gamble on an unknown rather than the obvious choice, but with that comes consequences if things don’t work out.

2. Giving Jay Cutler a seven-year, $126 million contract

This decision was second-guessed from the start.

Jay Cutler has proven very little as a starting quarterback in the NFL except that he’s supremely talented. Winning, though? That hasn’t followed suit.

Statistically, Cutler had one of the best seasons of his career, posting an 88.6 quarterback rating with 3,812 yards and 28 touchdowns. But he also tied for the league lead with 18 interceptions, and the problem was so bad that Trestman decided to bench Cutler in the Week 16 matchup against the Lions.

After one year of Cutler’s contract, which includes $54 million guaranteed, the Bears have a horrible decision to make: hope and pray with Cutler or hope and pray with somebody else. In either case, they’ll still be paying him.

3. Drafting Shea McClellin

Emery’s first test as the Bears’ GM was the 2012 draft, and what a bust his first pick has become.

Emery, who has a background as a scouting director and was brought to Chicago to improve the Bears’ drafting, selected McClellin with the 19th pick. Other defensive ends available to the Bears were Chandler Jones and Whitney Mercilus, both of whom were considered safer choices even then.

The Bears converted McClellin to a strong-side linebacker and the results have been unimpressive.

A failure to draft well is the biggest problem facing the Bears for the past generation. Emery dug the hole deeper.

4. Signing defensive ends Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston

Allen had one of his worst seasons in an NFL uniform with 5.5 sacks and 55 tackles. Between 2007 and 2013, Allen had never racked up fewer than 11 sacks.

Houston did little to impress on the field, then tore his ACL while jumping around to celebrate his first sack of the season — in Week 8. That came after calling fans out for booing the Bears at Soldier Field.

So far, neither of these offseason signings is panning out, and Emery is responsible.

5. Emery’s lack of action in 2014

Emery failed to take charge when things started heading south in 2014.

From locker room dysfunction, to back-to-back 50-point blowouts and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer’s leaking of information to reporters, Emery never took control.

He tied himself to the Trestman hire and Cutler contract, then decided to go down with the ship rather than address the problems at hand.