In the absence of information about -- and access to -- the Chicago Bears' new general manager, many of us took the logical step in classifying his philosophy. Like Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson, Phil Emery spent most his professional career as a scout, beating the bushes around the country for college players. So it wasn't a bad guess to think Emery would be more likely follow Thompson's mantra of minimal free-agent activity while building his team through the draft.
And then Emery went and pulled off the highest-profile surprise in recent offseason memory Tuesday, giving up two third-round draft picks to acquire receiver Brandon Marshall from the Miami Dolphins. He also re-signed cornerback Tim Jennings to a two-year deal and was working to sign veteran Jason Campbell as the Bears' new backup quarterback.
The comparison still works if you remember that Thompson signed cornerback Charles Woodson and defensive end Ryan Pickett to bolster those positions early in his tenure. Only after two drafts with the Packers did Thompson begin backing away from the free-agent market.
We have no idea what the long-term future holds for Emery's stewardship of the Bears. He hasn't uttered a word in public since his Jan. 30 introductory press conference, and probably as a result, both the Marshall courtship and the interest in Campbell came as complete surprises.
But Tuesday demonstrated the Bears have a bold thinker sitting in their Halas Hall trigger seat. Recognizing his team's biggest need, Emery acquired a better player than the top free agent available. (I would take Marshall over Vincent Jackson. You?) Knowing his team needed a better situation behind Jay Cutler, Emery is trying to sign a player who has been considered starting-quality by every team he's played for.
The Bears didn't get the first visit with defensive end Mario Williams, a big point of our discussions the past few days, and it's not clear if they have interest. Williams is already visiting the Buffalo Bills. But in a matter of minutes, Phil Emery replaced a void of information with a flood of action that spoke volumes about the way he will manage the Bears. Reporters and fans might not like being in the dark, but no one can argue with Tuesday's results.