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updated: 3/27/2014 5:28 AM

Bears GM Emery always looking for answers

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  • Bears general manager Phil Emery is as busy fixing the defense this off-season as he was last year fixing the offense.

    Bears general manager Phil Emery is as busy fixing the defense this off-season as he was last year fixing the offense.
    Associated Press


Rejoicing over Wednesday's signing of Jared Allen notwithstanding, the Bears still have questions to be answered.

Like, which local TV station will hire the chatty Allen for its Sunday night football wrapup show?

What's the deal with the second "r" in the recently signed Lamarr Houston's first name?

When will Bears-Broncos Super Bowl tickets go on sale, and will the game be moved to Soldier Field?

Real stumpers, for sure, but fear not. Give Bears general manager Phil Emery a couple of minutes and he'll think of something.

They might be the right answers. They might be the wrong answers. Either way they will be answers because Emery is fast becoming an NFL answer man.

Get one of those chess timers out and Emery will beat the clock every time. The man might not sit still even when he's getting a haircut.

What makes this all the more interesting is that one of the hardest tricks in sports is to make over a team while trying to contend for a championship at the same time.

Phil Emery is attempting to pull that one off.

Last year the Bears needed a new offensive line, tight end and offensive playbook? Check, check and check.

This year the Bears needed a new defensive line and renewed hope for a pass rush? Check those off, too.

Seriously, this Emery guy has more personnel answers than Vladimir Putin has territorial ambitions.

Whether the answers are correct is a story for another day. The story today is that for all we know the Bears are back in contention for something.

If Emery isn't responsible for the transition, then salary-cap guru Cliff Stein must be. Together they found dollars and sense between the couch cushions.

The Bears are coming out of free agency with more bodies than the Cook County morgue. Hopefully for them that's the wrong analogy.

Emery quickly signed or re-signed free-agent defensive linemen Double-r Houston, Willie Young, Israel Idonije, Jeremiah Ratliff and Nate Collins.

The latest pulse to join the Bears belongs to Allen, the sack-happy defensive end signed and assigned to rush the passer.

Allen comes with more questions begging answers.

Is he here for the money or to win a championship? Can he play the run? Is he too obsessed with his individual stats? Are his 11 sacks in 2013 so appealing only because the Bears' pass rush was so inferior?

Will he agree to a defensive-line rotation? Will he play like an older or younger 32 years of age? Overall is his game still as good as his name at this stage of his career?

It's a guaranteed $15.5 million too late for Emery to search for answers, so we must trust that he had them before offering Allen a contract.

If Emery is correct on at least half of what he determined, the Bears are serious players in the NFC North. If he's wrong they're seriously mediocre again.

The Bears were a high-end fixer-upper when Emery became general manager early in 2013. Many believed he should tear the house down and rebuild, but he chose to remodel.

The Bears' defense has gone younger but not young. The interesting exchange was letting 34-year-old defensive end Julius Peppers go to Green Bay and replacing him with the 32-year-old Allen from Minnesota.

Those two years allow Emery to buy time instead of bide time.

Now when the Bears draft defensive linemen in May they can ease them in rather than throw them in.

Or, considering the stockpile of free-agent linemen, Emery can use the 14th overall pick on the best defensive player available at any position.

Then after the draft he can explain that second "r" in Lamarr?

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