The NFL Season Begins in Two Weeks. (What Don’t We Know About the Chicago Bears?)

| August 28th, 2020

It’s remarkable to think the NFL is going to kickoff the 2020 season in Kansas City two weeks from yesterday. But barring a Covid tsunami or another testing lab debacle in New Jersey or the players mounting an NBA-style walkout, the show will seemingly go on. So with so little time remaining before they start keeping score, what don’t we know about the 2020 Chicago Bears?

How Will the Backfield Look?

In the wake of David Montgomery’s injury, the Bears could use Cordarrelle Patterson and Tarik Cohen to piece together their backfield. Or they could elevate the status of undrafted free agent Artavis Pierce. And why not? We see “scrap heap” type backs emerge around the league every year. If Juan Castillo gets them blocking up front, Pierce could become as a key component of the offense. Why not give the kid a shot to carry the load? He’s got talent.

Who is the Quarterback?

A tale of two tweets.

Tweet 1.

Tweet 2.

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How the Bears Stack Up in the NFC North: Special Teams

| June 16th, 2020

The all-important third phase has mixed reviews for the Bears.

There is no question the Bears are the worst in the division when it comes to kickers, but they’re among the best when it comes to return men and punters, the latter not having much competition.

With an offense still expected to struggle, the Bears will desperately need this third phase to be productive.


1. Detroit

2. Green Bay

3. Minnesota

4. Chicago

While he’s 35 and coming off of a bit of an off year, Matt Prater’s ability to make kicks from basically anywhere puts him atop this list. Mason Crosby is coming off of a career year, but entered the season fighting for his job. His made field goal percentage seems likely to dip back down into the low-80s Dan Bailey also had to earn his job in camp, but he did so and missed just two kicks. He was three-for-three on 50-plus yarders.

The Bears still need to keep an eye out for a replacement for Eddy Pineiro, who not only had the worst field goal percentage in the division last year, but had maybe the easiest job with just nine field goals beyond 40 yards. He missed four of them.

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2019 Season Preview Volume II: The Hopes

| August 29th, 2019

Yesterday, just the facts, ma’am. Today, the hopes. Our season preview continues by looking at six things – that if they happen – the Bears have a chance to be the best team in the league.

Hope 1. Mitch Trubisky will improve.

4,000 yards. 30+ touchdowns. 10-15 interceptions max. If Trubisky hits those numbers, he’s on the road to being one of the best in the game.

Hope 2. David Montgomery will be a very good running back.

The core of the Bears offense is their center and guards. Daniels, Whitehair and Long are angry, tough men.  Montgomery is a big back that is hell to bring down. If the rookie is as advertised, the Bears could have the game’s best closer.

Hope 3. Eddy Pineiro will solidify the kicker position.

Here’s what the Bears fan wants: a kicker they don’t worry about from 43 yards. You wanna miss a few 52 yarders? Fine. You wanna be 75% from 45-50? Fine. But just be iron clad from inside 45. Be a steady, reliable figure for the organization. And stay the fuck off morning television.

Hope 4. The Bears will get production from the tight end position.

Trey Burton disappointed in 2018 and then mysteriously no-showed the playoff game. Adam Shaheen is all gravy, no meat. Ben Braunecker is nothing special but he’ll certainly find himself playing meaningful snaps this season. The Bears have a lot of toys (Tarik Cohen, Cordarrelle Patterson) to move the football but they still need the tight end spot to produce.

Hope 5. Allen Robinson will stay healthy.

Robinson has shown flashes of being an elite wide receiver but he has 56 catches total over the last two seasons due to health reasons alone. If the Bears want their passing attack to be explosive, Robinson needs to be on the field.

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For the Sake of Fan Sanity, Eddy Pineiro Needs a Perfect Saturday Night

| August 23rd, 2019

Eddy Pineiro has never attempted a field goal in the NFL. And right now he’s the only game in town. But while many of the folks covering the the 2019 Chicago Bears – this space included – have spent the last month exploring outside options to fill the gaping kicker crevasse on the roster, the best case scenario is the easiest one: Pineiro has a perfect Saturday night and builds some confidence heading into the opener.

Some is the pivotal word in that sentence. There is no way to be entirely confident in Pineiro, who has been anything but reliable since joining the club. Just look at the way his being the last kicker remaining has been framed by the national football outlets. PFT described him as still being on “thin ice”. NBC Sports reported he won the battle…for now. Nobody, not even members of the Pineiro family, think he won anything. He simply survived a competition wherein the other competitors are now filling out job resumes at Charles Entertainment Cheese pizza establishments.

There are also nightmare scenarios for Saturday night. What if Pineiro goes 1-4, missing a few short ones? What if he misses an extra point or two? What if he doinks a kick? (I mean, can you fucking imagine?) What if he simply doesn’t look the part of a professional kicker? The Bears could go to sleep Saturday night having to deal with two concrete facts: (1) they do not have a kicker and (2) they have a real game, against their oldest rival, in primetime, in front of a massive audience, in twelve days.

Preseason is and should be meaningless. But because this organization has recklessly neglected the kicker position, they have put an extreme amount of import into a random practice game in Indiana in August.

Now all Bears fans can do is wait. And hope.



Gambling on Young Legs is Risky Business for Pace, Nagy.

| July 17th, 2019

When one peruses NFL.com for statistical information regarding the only two kickers on the current Bears roster – Eddy Pineiro and Elliot Fry – one is met with a disconcerting sentence:

“This player does not have any statistics…”

And so sums up the kicker situation for the 2019 edition of the Bears. Maybe one of these two kids will be the next great kicker in Chicago. Maybe both will completely flame out over the summer. You don’t know. I don’t know. The Bears don’t know. And therein lies the problem. The Bears are heading into this campaign with their most talented roster in a few generations, as genuine contenders to win the Super Bowl, and they’re doing so with a significant liability at this critical position.

The scary part of this process is the Bears could potentially not find out if the kicker position will cripple them until opening night against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. Camp success is by no means a precursor to season success, no matter how many gimmicks Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace create around the competition. And even if Pineiro and Fry are both perfect through the summer’s fake games, a crucial miss late in that Thursday nighter will make them THE story on Friday morning.

Imagine making the bold move on draft night to get up one spot for the quarterback you covet. And imagine making the franchise-altering trade to acquire one of the game’s best defenders. Now imagine doing those things and risking everything by only having on your roster two kickers, neither of whom has ever ATTEMPTED a field goal in the NFL. To quote Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, “Sounds crazy, no?”

It is crazy. It is also negligent. NFL teams are far too close talent-wise these days and we consistently see playoff games decided by a kick here or kick there. The 2019 Bears are going to be a good team, no matter who is kicking the football. But they won’t be a championship team if Fry or Pineiro doesn’t emerge as a better-than-average option at this pivotal position. And there’s no evidence to suggest they will…or they won’t.

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Thinking Through the Whole Kicker Situation…

| May 8th, 2019

The Bears don’t currently have an NFL kicker. Not really.

Sure, they kept Chris Blewitt and Elliot Fry from this past weekend’s #KickerFest19. Sure, they also traded a CONDITIONAL 7th-round pick from sometime in the next decade to acquire Eddy Pineiro from the Oakland Raiders. But even if these three unproven men wow the organization throughout OTAs and the summer, and even if they all stick on the roster come the preseason and are perfect through fake-game action, the Bears will not know if they have an NFL kicker until Thursday night, September 5th. Because that’s when the Green Bay Packers come to town. That’s when the result gets stapled to the GM and head coach. And that’s when the kicks actually matter.

Maybe one of these three ends up “the guy” come opening night. Or maybe Ryan Pace is still laying in the weeds, waiting out a fragile situation in San Francisco. No, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to believe Robbie Gould will be the one kicking against the Packers on that Thursday night in September. As one league source texted me, “Gould doesn’t want to be there anymore and the entire sport knows where he wants to be.” He wants to be home, with his family, in Chicago. But will Niners GM John Lynch allow a kicker to hold him hostage? Will he have a choice if Gould, you know, doesn’t show up for work?

The Bears are a championship contender. They have the league’s most talented defense and an offense that should be drastically improved with another year of experience in this NFL-proven system. But if they enter the 2019 campaign with a liability at the kicker position it will be impossible to pick them to win at all. Because at some point – maybe with a division, or home field, or another playoff game at stake – they’ll need a kick in a big spot.

On May 8th, the Bears can’t possibly believe they can make that kick. But it’s only May 8th.

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