Bears

The Bears are confident in Eddy Pineiro, but for how long? 

The Bears are confident in Eddy Pineiro, but for how long? 

Eddy Pineiro will be the Bears’ kicker Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers. The Bears’ long, winding search for a kicker — which featured that eight-kicker rookie minicamp tryout and replays of the double-doink and Augusta silence and Robbie Gould’s trade demand — is over. 

“It’s a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders,” Pineiro said. “Just excited to be the guy. This organization believes in me and giving me a shot to be where I’m at. Just want to make them happy.”

The Bears feel Pineiro earned his job with a strong preseason in which he made eight of nine kicks and three of four PATs (which, of course, included his shank on Thursday). Coach Matt Nagy and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor were able to test Pineiro both physically and mentally over the last month and a half, and over that time came to trust their 23-year-old kicker. 

“He deserves it,” Nagy said. “He earned every right to be our kicker. And we feel good about it.”

Pineiro on Sunday practiced at Soldier Field, affording him an additional opportunity to get used to the swirling wind and field conditions ahead of Thursday night's season opener against the Green Bay Packers. It was the only time this week he’ll go down to the lakefront to practice, but even expressing a willingness to make the trek to Soldier Field was more than Cody Parkey showed last year (he initially said he didn’t think there would be a benefit to it). 

On a broader scale: The Bears will need to be patient with Pineiro moving forward. Over the last 20 years, rookie kickers who attempted at least 10 field goals in a season made 79.5 percent of their kicks. Some of the best kickers in the NFL didn’t have wildly successful rookie seasons, like:

Robbie Gould (2005): 77.8 percent
Stephen Gostkowski (2006): 76.9 percent
Greg Zeurlein (2012): 74.2 percent
Aldrick Rosas (2017): 72 percent
Sebastian Janikowski (2000): 68.8 percent

For every Gould or Janikowki there’s a guy who quickly burned out, like Roberto Aguayo (71 percent in 2016) or Zane Gonzalez (75 percent in 2017), of course. And just because a kicker is good as a rookie doesn’t mean he’ll stay good — Parkey (88.9 percent in 2016) being a prime example of that. 

But Nagy is well aware of the history of rookie kickers, having mentioned it a few times over the last month. The challenge for the Bears will be to figure out if, when Pineiro inevitably misses, if it's the start of a troubling trend or more of an anomaly.

“Hopefully it’s the arrow-up deal where he hits a few early and he gets his confidence going and before you know it, he’s on a nice streak,” Nagy said. “And so we feel that out as a staff. And if it starts out a little slow or there’s inconsistency, that’s where the challenge of being able to — the frustration of how much it hurts you comes into play. 

“But when that person knows that and understands it, there’s no surprises. And so we want to think of the glass half full, (like) he’s going to come out here and make every kick. And then if he does miss a kick or if he does miss an extra point … That’s a juggling act, where, until he proves himself in real live bullets, we won’t know that. I’m just hoping that he’s that guy that comes out and has a great year.”

Still, the stakes are particularly high for the Bears given the Super Bowl-caliber collection of talent surrounding Pineiro. This a team that already saw one shot at the Lombardi Trophy end in devastatingly early fashion thanks to a missed field goal. 

But the Bears will enter 2019 confident in their decision to ride with Pineiro. All they can do now is trust in their evaluation of him, and hope when the time comes he makes the big kick, not misses it. 

“I feel a lot better, I feel a lot more confident,” Pineiro said. “I’ve made eight of my last nine kicks in preseason, I’m feeling confident going into the season. Should be fun.” 

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Mitch Trubisky underwent surgery to repair shoulder injury

Mitch Trubisky underwent surgery to repair shoulder injury

Chicago Bears QB Mitch Trubisky is entering the most important offseason of his NFL career. Naturally, he needs to be 100% healthy in order to hold off competition that's expected to be added by GM Ryan Pace via free agency or the NFL draft.

In order to get there, Trubisky underwent offseason surgery to repair the torn labrum in his left shoulder.

Trubisky was originally injured in Week 4's win over the Vikings.

The good news is the surgery was on his non-throwing shoulder. And while it'll be a few months before he's back to full strength, it's not nearly as severe as it would've been had it been his right side.

RELATED: Top free agent QBs of 2020 NFL offseason

Trubisky's 2019 regular season was defined by regression. He took a step back in every major category, including completion percentage, yards and touchdowns. He didn't run nearly as much either, as his rushing totals dipped from 421 yards in 2018 to just 193 last year.

The Bears are one of the first teams connected to almost every big-name free-agent quarterback likely to hit the open market, and they've also been mentioned as a club that could potentially trade back into the first round if a quality quarterback prospect begins to slip in the 2020 NFL draft. Needless to say, the pressure's on No. 10.

We haven't seen enough from a healthy Trubisky to consider him a starting-quality player at this point, so a less-than-full-strength version of the 2017 second overall pick would've all but doomed his chances at holding onto the starting job this summer.

Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew thought he was going to be a Bear

Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew thought he was going to be a Bear

Minshew Mania took the NFL by storm in 2019, and it almost happened in Chicago.

Minshew told Fansided's Mark Carmen that the Bears were the only other team besides the Jacksonville Jaguars that he had a formal meeting with at the 2019 Scouting Combine. "I loved it, meeting with (Matt) Nagy and all those guys," Minshew said. "They were awesome. We got to talk some really good ball. For a while, I thought that was going to be a real possibility. But you know what? I ended up right where I was supposed to be."

The rookie sixth-round quarterback from Washington State enjoyed an unexpected rise to stardom after replacing an injured Nick Foles in the Jaguars' starting lineup. He was an effective NFL quarterback who threw for 3,271 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions in 12 starts.

Minshew is one of the first names mentioned when formulating a Bears offseason quarterback strategy, too. He represents the Day-3 upside pick that GM Ryan Pace should try to find in 2020, even if Chicago adds a veteran to compete with Mitch Trubisky this summer.

Hindsight is 20/20, but had the Bears actually pulled the trigger on Minshew last year, there's little doubt he would've ascended to QB1 and never looked back. He proved in just 12 starts in 2019 that he has a more natural feel for the pocket and a better playmaker's mentality than Trubisky, who's logged 41 regular-season starts in three seasons in Chicago.

It's also worth noting the amount of time the Bears spent with Minshew, considering one of the knocks against him was the offense he was coming from. Mike Leach's system at Washington State isn't known for producing quality NFL starters, but Chicago's willingness to meet with Minshew suggests they might also be willing to give long consideration to Anthony Gordon, who excelled under Leach as a Cougar in 2019 with 5,579 yards and 48 touchdowns.

At least we know the Bears did some homework on quarterback prospects in 2019. Now, it's time to deliver results and not allow another Minshew-type gem slip away.