SBD/January 3, 2013/Franchises

Bears GM Emery Says Decision To Fire Smith Was His; Touts Transparency In Search

Bears GM Phil Emery divulged that the Bears' decision to part ways with coach Lovie Smith "ultimately came down to inconsistency on offense and the team's inability to perennially advance to the postseason," according to Michael Wright of ESPN CHICAGO. Emery "insisted he made the decision to fire" Smith, who led the team "to the postseason three times in nine years, and came to that end with the blessings" of Bears Chair George McCaskey and President Ted Phillips. McCaskey said the decision was "very difficult" because his family "has high regard for Lovie." Phillips, when asked if budget will be an issue with a new hire, said, "We've talked about what do we want to do in terms of bringing in a head coach and the bottom line is we want the right fit. We want the synergy with Phil." Emery said there is "a sense of urgency" to hire a new coach as quickly as possible. He added that ideally he would like to "stand shoulder to shoulder" with the new head coach at the Jan. 19 East-West Shrine Game or the Jan. 26 Senior Bowl. Emery also "covets a 'high-energy' candidate that can represent the Bears positively in dealings with the media" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 1/1). Emery said that he "has not been given a budget to use for the coaching search, a process that also involves the Bears paying any coaches who depart." In Chicago, Brad Biggs noted that figure alone could "exceed $10 million, including the remaining year on Smith's deal." Emery said that he will "retain the full control he was given when he was hired of the 53-man roster." He called it "a necessary part of 'checks and balances.'" Emery is "seeking someone with a positive personality who will inspire those around him" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/1).

GETTING REAL: In Chicago, David Haugh wrote Emery on Tuesday "gave the Bears every reason to believe that [a] positive result was likely after a virtuoso performance on the podium." In a "thoughtful 54-minute session with reporters, Emery used refreshing honesty and rare transparency to instill the kind of confidence in a job search we are not used to seeing." At "long last, the Bears projected the image of an NFL franchise that knows what it wants and, of more importance, how to get it." The only "odd moment ... came when a slightly defensive Emery explained in laborious detail his thought process about fixing the offensive line last offseason." But other than the "tangent taking fans on a fascinating tour inside the mind of a football geek, Emery stayed on point well enough to wonder why the Bears rarely make him accessible" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/2). ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert wrote Emery gave "one of the most expansive and content-rich pressers in recent memory" (ESPN.com, 1/1).
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