Previous experience with Bears could give Phil Emery a leg up

SHARE Previous experience with Bears could give Phil Emery a leg up

Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith on the sidelines in the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Monday, Oct. 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Kansas City Chiefs director of college scouting Phil Emery remains the favorite to be named the Bears’ general manager after his second interview with the team Friday at Halas Hall.

The Bears will name either Emery or New England Patriots director of pro personnel Jason Licht to succeed Jerry Angelo, who was fired by team president Ted Phillips last month. Licht had his second interview with the Bears on Thursday.

No timetable is set, but the Bears ‘‘don’t expect a decision to take too long,” a Halas Hall source close to the hiring process said Friday night.

Emery, 53, is considered the front-runner because of his familiarity with the Bears and his background in college scouting. Emery’s first job in the NFL was with the Bears as an area scout from 1998 to 2004. His responsibility was the Southeast, where he scouted quarterback Rex Grossman, who led the Bears to the Super Bowl in the 2006 season.

While with the Bears, Emery worked with several people in the Bears’ front office and scouting department who still are at Halas Hall, including the three executives who reportedly have been most prominent in the interview process – Phillips, director of football administration Cliff Stein and director of corporate communications Scott Hagel.

Emery worked with current scouts Marty Barrett, Jeff Shiver, Ted Monago and Chris Ballard while scouting for the Bears. He also worked one season with current Bears interim general manager Tim Ruskell with the Atlanta Falcons, when Emery was hired as the director of college scouting in 2004 and Ruskell was the assistant general manager.

The Bears are resistant to change and there likely would be less of an overhaul with Emery as the general manager. Licht, who will turn 41 next month, is even more highly regarded as general manager prospect because of his background with the Patriots and Bill Belichick. But almost by definition, a Belichick product is less likely to accept the status quo.

When Scott Pioli – Belichick’s right-hand man – was hired as the Chiefs’ general manager in 2009, he fired head coach Herman Edwards 10 days later and replaced most of the scouting department, including respected vice president of player personnel Bill Kuharich, by the end of his first draft three months later.

Emery, who has upper-Midwest roots as a Garden City, Mich. native, has a solid background in discipline and a low-key nature like previous McCaskey family favorites Dick Jauron and Lovie Smith. Emery was a hard-driving strength-and-conditioning coach for all sports at the Naval Academy from 1991 to 1997, where the earned the nickname ‘‘Satan.”

The McCaskeys might not be thrilled with the nickname, but they’re sure to like everything else about Emery, who also performed administrative duties and was a teacher at Navy.

‘‘The things that stand out are his work ethic, his work habits, how detailed he is, how meticulous he is,” Pioli told the Sun-Times this week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. ‘‘He’s a very good teacher and he’s a very good listener. I think those things are valuable in that position. I also feel that he’s a good evaluator of talent.”

If the Bears select Emery, there’s nothing that limits their ability to make that announcement. But if they select Licht, they’ll need written permission from the Patriots because their season isn’t over. They’ll play the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis on Feb. 5.

Contributing: Sean Jensen

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