Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Belichick, Angelo and the Top Bears GM Contendors

After Jerry Angelo was fired, we mentioned that there is often a relatively thin line that separates a good draft from a bad one. The basic premise was that it's easy to look back at his drafts and say Angelo was a bad GM, but with a little better luck here or there, things could have been much different. We also made the case that the Cutler acquisition costs precious draft picks, but it seemed to be necessary considering the Bears lack of success with QBs development.

Compare Angelo's bad luck, with the Patriots' selection of Tom Brady--perhaps one of the luckiest picks of all time. Where Belichick's skill came into play was not in selecting Brady, it was in recognizing Brady's potential and then developing it.

A couple choices made by Angelo turned out to be what might be called cross-boomers -- not late-bloomers, players who would mature slowly, but rather players who could excel only when they crossed over to another team. Cedric Benson seems to be the classic example of this. And then there is Mark Anderson--now one of the New England Patriots defensive stars. Both of these players look like different people now that they are no longer in Chicago. This is not a knock on the Bears--it's a phenomenon that happens in every sport, on every team. Sometimes athletes just need a change of venue. The same happens with coaches and sports administrators.

Jerry Angelo is thought of very highly in some NFL circles. Angelo and Bill Belichick have a long relationship built on mutual respect for each others talent evaluation. Belichick was once quoted in the Tribune as saying: "Jerry has selected some great players, especially some middle round guys, later round guys who have been very productive for him. He has a good eye for talent." If you know Belichick's team-building philosophy, you know that he would much rather build a team of no-names from the middle rounds of the draft rather than have to fuss with round one superstars who hold sway with the media and are represented by the most difficult agents. What you might read into Belichick's quote is "Jerry is my kind of guy."

Two Top Contenders for Bears GM

Interestingly enough, the two top contenders for the Bears GM position, like Jerry Angelo, also have connections to Bill Belichick; Jason Licht has a very close connection--Bill Emery a distant one. Jason Licht worked for Belichick the last couple years as director of professional personnel. Two years under Belichick in the Patriots system would have given Licht a good schooling in the Patriots way of doing things--build your club with team players who are totally devoted to the game.

Bill Emery's connection to Belichick may seem remote, call it once-removed, but the influences cannot be denied. First, he served as the Director of Strength and Conditioning Services and as an Associate Professor at the U.S. Naval Academy from ’91-98. Bill Belichick's father Steve taught at the Naval Academy for many years and served as a scout--in fact Belichick's father literally wrote the book on football scouting while he was at the Academy--Football Scouting Methods. Bill Belichick spent a lot of time with his dad during those Academy years--and he was a good study. Emery, like Belichick would have had the military influences in his football development.

The second Emery-Belichick connection is to Kansas City General Manger, Scott Pioli, who served as the Vice President of Player Personnel with the Patriots and worked with Belichick there for nine years (his work with Belichick goes back even further). Pioli and Belichick have a very similar mindset when it comes to talent acquisition and team development. As Pioli described it, ""Individuals make Pro Bowls, teams win championships." Emery served as Chiefs Director of College Scouting under Pioli for the past three years.

Assuming the Bears pick Licht or Emery, if these men follow their mentors practices, we are likely to see a lean mean fighting machine approach to personnel acquisition. The Bears will be looking for dedicated team players and maybe trading away first round draft choices for more picks. They would also stay away from the superstar trades and watch their pennies. They may also follow Belichick's lead of picking up players who fill the needs of the team as opposed to strategies such as picking the best athlete or the most talented player.

No comments:

Post a Comment