The Chicago Bears kicking situation is unsettled, but it’s not just the missed kicks that are concerning.
I don’t know if the Chicago Bears ever watched NBC’s “The Office” but to quote the inimitable Michael Scott (quoting Wayne Gretzky), “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Though in this case, we are talking about kicks rather than shots.
What the heck am I talking about? Let me explain. The Bears went to the ends of the earth to try to find a kicker to replace Cody Parkey after his atrocious performance last season. They brought in eight kickers in Organized Team Activities, and since that time, have put their candidates through the wringer.
It started with Augusta Silence, where the players kicked in stone-cold silence in front of the team. They also tried recreating Parkey’s infamous 43-yard miss while former Bears legends were in attendance. Finally, they used more narrow uprights to further evaluate their accuracy.
Eventually, they settled on Eddy Pineiro just before the third preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts. Pineiro impressed making all five of his kicks (three field goals and two extra points) including a 58-yarder which had Bears fans tingling.
However, it was the kick he didn’t take that left some, including yours truly, a little puzzled. Later in the game, the Bears had a chance to try another long field goal (approximately 59 yards) but Matt Nagy passed on the opportunity.
Granted it was a yard longer than the 58-yarder he nailed, but that kick would have been good from 60+. So why not give him another shot? Surely Nagy wasn’t honestly evaluating how Tyler Bray would react in a 4th and 17 situation. So one can only surmise that he wanted to preserve his confidence and maintain some good vibes heading into the regular season.
Those good vibes didn’t last long, as last night, Pineiro missed his first kick of the night (an extra point) but 3/4 of a mile (and that may be a conservative estimate).
Later in the game, on a 4th and 4 from the Tennessee Titans 32-yard line, Nagy passed on an opportunity to have Pineiro try a 49-yard field goal. It is an absolutely puzzling move, unless, again, you consider he did it to protect his confidence. Otherwise, why wouldn’t you want to evaluate how your kicker might perform in suboptimal conditions at Soldier Field before you commit to him in a year you hope to contend for a Super Bowl? It just doesn’t add up.
If the Bears are in fact trying to protect him, then they should already have their answer to the question of whether he is their guy — and the answer is “no.” There was a point in the season last year when Nagy preferred to go for it rather than attempting a long field goal. So has the kicking situation really improved if that’s still the case?
If Nagy doesn’t have the confidence to send him out there to attempt a 49-yarder with a little win in a meaningless fourth preseason game, then what in the world are they going to do when it matters?