For Bears, Pineiro's success begins to validate their method to the kicker search madness

USA Today

For Bears, Pineiro's success begins to validate their method to the kicker search madness

Perhaps no one on the Bears had a better Labor Day than Eddy Pineiro, who was officially named the kicker of the Chicago Bears over the long weekend. 

For all intents and purposes, Pineiro already had the job. After their preseason finale last Thursday night, Matt Nagy admitted it'd be hard to envision a scenario where, at that point, anyone else would be brought in. Still, there's something different about hearing it from team officials – like Pineiro did when special teams coordinator Chris Tabor let him know the day before the deadline. 

"It’s a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders," Pineiro said on Sunday. "Excited to be the guy. And this organization believes in me, and giving me a shot to be where I’m at. Just want to make them happy."

It hasn't been an easy summer, and Nagy and Co. would be the first to admit that they maybe didn't get everything right when it came to replacing Cody Parkey. It wasn't always smooth, but Nagy, Tabor, and GM Ryan Pace knew that 'turning over every stone' wouldn't be. 

"If we would just do the same thing over and over again, and expect different results, I think that's the definition of insanity," Tabor said on Monday. "So our process that we went though, I'm really proud of the process that we went through."

"The whole process that we went through, that was really the plan all along, you know," Pace added. "And the hope all along, and the optimism all along, is to hit on a young kicker than we can grow and develop. We feel like we've done that. We're very confident in him, and there was a lot of adversity but in to that plan, you know strategically so. And we think it worked out just right."

The way Pineiro rebounded after a shanked extra point attempt continued to come up in conversations on Monday, as did the way he celebrates with his teammates. Obviously none of that matters much if he's missing kicks, but the Bears – whether they'd admit it or not – are clearly pleased with how Pineiro's embracing all the aspects of being the Chicago Bears' kicker. It's part of what made Robbie Gould so popular here, and part of why Cody Parkey wasn't. Plenty in Halas Hall are happy to roll their eyes at the practice-on-Soldier narrative, but his willingness to do so goes a long way. 

"[He'll practice] as many times as we can get down there," Tabor said. "Sometimes it's dependent upon the schedule, where we are playing and those types of things. I know that can be a big story. I really don't find that a story. We really need to get down there and work, make him more familiar with it, so we will continue to do that."

"... He's eager to do anything, that's why I love him the way I do. He's very coachable. The kid has talent, we just have to keep honing it in."


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Kirk Cousins on John DeFilippo: 'He’s going to add a lot to Bears' staff'

Kirk Cousins on John DeFilippo: 'He’s going to add a lot to Bears' staff'

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins spoke with Chicago Sun-Times reporter Patrick Finley at the 2020 Pro Bowl and offered a glowing review of Bears quarterback coach, John DeFilippo, whose addition to Chicago's coaching staff is expected to bring the best out of Mitch Trubisky, the Bears' incumbent starter who's entering a make-or-break offseason with the team.

“He’ll be outstanding,” Cousins said. “He’s a great coach. He’s been around this league for a long time. I think it says a lot when someone like Matt Nagy, who knows quarterbacks so well, hires him. I think that says a lot about ‘Flip.’

“When you look at what he did with Carson Wentz as a young player, I think there’s a lot to like there. And he’s going to add a lot to that staff. It’s going to be to my detriment, because we’re in his division. But he’s a great coach.”

DeFilippo was the Eagles quarterback coach for two seasons (2016-17) and played an integral part in Wentz's development between his rookie and second seasons. Under DeFilippo's tutelage, Wentz went from a solid rookie season to an MVP-worthy campaign in 2017. It's also noteworthy that DeFilippo managed to get the best out of veteran Nick Foles, who replaced Wentz after a season-ending injury. Foles went on to enjoy a miraculous Super Bowl run.

DeFilippo certainly has his work cut out for him with Trubisky. The former second-overall pick has looked like an average starter (at best) through 41 regular-season starts and regressed mightily in 2019. Blame for his regression has been shared among the offensive line and play-calling, but he deserves much of the criticism too. His mechanics were sloppy, his accuracy was lacking and he just didn't play with the kind of downfield killer instinct Nagy wants from his starter.

Nagy's end-of-year comments about Trubisky needing to learn how to identify coverages didn't create much confidence in his near-term trajectory, either.

But that's why DeFilippo is in town. And if Cousins' comments prove to be true, then we may be on the precipice of a breakout season from Trubisky.

Or maybe DeFilippo will be the tie-breaking voice that allows the Bears to move on if Trubisky's struggles continue.

Mel Kiper thinks these players could be available to Bears in 2nd round

Mel Kiper thinks these players could be available to Bears in 2nd round

Believe it or not, the Bears are in good shape for the 2020 NFL Draft, even without a first-round pick.

This year’s class of prospects runs deep with talent and several players chosen between picks 33-50 will have upside similar to first-rounders from years past.

The Bears have two picks in that range — Nos. 43 and 50 — and have a great opportunity to add two starting-quality players by the end of Day 2.

But which players are likely to be available when they’re on the clock? 

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. published his new mock draft Friday and it offers a good look not only at who the potential first-round picks will be but also the cluster of highly-ranked prospects who will fall into Round 2.

Here are five players who didn’t make Kiper’s first-round cut that the Bears will give strong consideration to. 

Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia

Fromm is likely to be the highest-rated passer still on the board when the Bears are on the clock in the second round. And while he doesn’t have elite traits, his experience as a starter in the SEC adds an element to the Bears' quarterback room that’s currently missing. Plus, his accuracy on short and intermediate routes is a good fit for Matt Nagy’s offense.

Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue

The best tight end at the 2020 Senior Bowl and arguably the top tight end in the draft class slips out of Kiper’s first round and potentially into the Bears’ lap at No. 43 overall. Hopkins is an athletic yet undersized pass-catcher at the position who would immediately challenge for the starting job in Chicago.

Terrell Lewis, Edge, Alabama

Lewis looks the part of an NFL edge rusher. and with questions surrounding the future of former first-round pick Leonard Floyd, the Bears are likely to target a player who can help add some juice on the outside rush track. Lewis’ production (only seven sacks the last two seasons) will likely create enough questions about his upside to push him into the second round.

Austin Jackson, OT, USC

The Bears offensive line was a big weakness in 2019 and there’s no doubt it will be a high priority in the 2020 NFL Draft. The pressing question is whether the Bears will attack offensive tackle or guard first, but with a player like Jackson making it to the second round in Kiper’s mock draft, they'd be hard-pressed to pass him up.

Lloyd Cushenberry, iOL, LSU

Cushenberry was one of the top offensive linemen at the 2020 Senior Bowl and will be a riser throughout the draft process. He may end up being the best interior lineman to slip to the second round, and like Hopkins, would be an immediate upgrade and potential starter on Day 1 of his rookie season.