The biggest question about the Bears before this season began, it appeared, was centered around their kicker. This looked like a Super Bowl caliber roster with one glaring weakness, right?
Five games into the 2019 season, the Bears are 3-2 and have far more question marks than they expected back in August. But one of those questions marks does not involve Eddy Pineiro.
Pineiro has made eight of nine field goals and all of his PATs this season, and blasted a game-winning 52-yarder to net the Bears a massive Week 2 win in Denver (imagine how much worse things would be in Chicago if that kick didn't go in and the Bears were 2-3 right now). He then kicked through the pain of a pinched nerve in his right leg for three weeks and only missed one try.
Nine kicks isn’t quite enough to say Pineiro has completely proven himself, but between his mental toughness, physical toughness and that walk-off field goal — what more could the Bears want?
"I think he’s grown, each day, and he keeps getting better," special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said last week. "That’s what we’re doing right now – we’re in the process of developing a player. He’s checking off boxes. As I stated last week, there’s going to be a lot more boxes to check off. I always say we’re not in a hurry to hit everything. It’s a developmental process."
Pineiro has maintained the Bears’ off week would help him get his leg back to 100 percent. He’s looked less and less hobbled since that Week 3 game against Washington, and was listed as a full participant in the Bears’ three practices before Sunday’s loss to the Oakland Raiders.
Coach Matt Nagy’s trust in Pineiro has grown, too. For a team unable to count on its offense, Pineiro’s dependability is at least a silver lining. Whether or not you believe the end justifies the means of the Bears’ offseason kicking competition isn’t quite relevant anymore. The Bears have a good kicker, one who hasn’t given the team any reason to doubt him. And that’s what matters.
And look around the rest of the league — there are plenty of teams without ideal kicking situations through the early part of the season.
Robbie Gould enters Week 6 having made seven of 12 field goals for the San Francisco 49ers. Adam Vinatieri, arguably the greatest kicker of all time, is 8/11 on field goals and a jarring 9/12 on PATs, and quite literally lost the Indianapolis Colts their season opener. New England’s Stephen Gostkowski has missed four PATs. The Tennessee Titans had to release Cairo Santos and replace him with Cody Parkey.
So for a team on which more hasn't worked than expected, there’s a least one thing (not involving the defense) that’s going right. And it’s their kicking situation with Eddy Pineiro.