Bears GM says Super Bowl talk has to be earned
BOURBONNAIS — Trading for three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall, adding nine unrestricted free agents and re-signing Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte to a four-year $32 million contract just before the start of training camp has the Bears headed in the right direction.
That direction, they believe, is the Super Bowl.
But it's just a start, according to general manager Phil Emery, who addressed the media on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University Tuesday afternoon as the Bears prepare for the start of training camp and Thursday's first practice.
"I think we've made progress, OK?" Emery said. "But to say a Super Bowl contender … it has to be earned on the field. Do we have good, talented players that can contribute towards a winning team and moving towards our goals to win a championship? Yes, we do.
"Are we there, now? We're not. We have to earn that every day on the field.
"That's a daily job from a personnel perspective, a daily job for everybody in our building, to be on the same page, to move forward with our goals. And we have to earn it. We've got to earn it on the field."
With the offensive additions — which include rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and unrestricted free-agent running back Michael Bush, an ideal backup and complement to Forte — there will be more pressure on quarterback Jay Cutler.
But Emery said it's not imperative for Cutler to put up gaudy individual numbers like the Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers or New England's Tom Brady.
"I don't think Jay has pressure to put up numbers," Emery said. "I think Jay puts the same pressure (on himself) that we all have and that we all collectively put on each other and (the) expectation level, and that's to be part of a great team.
"And to do that he's going to have to overcome some roadblocks. Everybody in the organization is, and I think that's Jay's mindset."
Cutler didn't act or talk like a guy feeling pressure when he arrived on campus late Tuesday afternoon. He said the new offensive weapons have him in a festive mood.
"Getting new guys around us in the offense is like Christmas," Cutler said. "They're new weapons, new toys for us to play with. Getting (Marshall) and Alshon and getting Matt back and Michael Bush, we've got a lot of new guys.
"It's going to be fun to see what they can do out there."
No one will be watched more closely than Cutler, and Emery believes he will respond.
"He wants to be part of a great team, and that's what he works daily on," Emery said. "Do I see a guy that is working towards those goals? Absolutely.
"He's very focused. As far as quarterbacks that I've had the opportunity to watch, which include Michael Vick (with Atlanta) before his situation (prison time for involvement with dog fighting) happened, he had one of the finest OTAs and spring balls that I've ever seen.
"I would put Jay there and above. Obviously he's got to do that under pressure; he's got to do that on each given Sunday, which he's proven he is more than capable of and has done."
A lot will depend on the kind of protection Cutler gets from an offensive line that has allowed more sacks than any other in the NFL over the past two seasons.
J'Marcus Webb and Chris Williams will decide by their performances in training camp and the preseason who starts at left tackle.
Center Roberto Garza and right tackle Gabe Carimi are locked in, while left guard Chris Spencer and right guard Lance Louis have the inside track at their respective spots but are not set in stone.
"It's a team game, and we're going to have to mesh together," Emery said. "We're going to have to keep chopping wood. We're going to keep working together and, like any organization, some parts are going to be stronger than the others.
"But it's how you pull it together and what the end result becomes from there."
The chopping and pulling begin in earnest Thursday afternoon.
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