Primetime, Thanksgiving games reportedly on tap for Bears' 2019 schedule

Primetime, Thanksgiving games reportedly on tap for Bears' 2019 schedule

While the NFL won’t release its 2019 schedule for another two months, Sports Business Journal reported a few noteworthy details on Monday for Bears fans dreaming of next season. 

Momentum continues to build for the Bears to open the 2019 season on Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers, a spot usually reserved for the defending Super Bowl champion. The NFL, per SBJ, wants to give the season opener to Chicago as both the Bears and the league celebrate their 100th anniversaries concurrently. If the Bears indeed get the Thursday night opener, it would be televised on NBC.

The Bears are lined up to play the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Thanksgiving for the second consecutive year, per SBJ. Prior to last year’s 23-16 win over the Lions — which came on the quickest turnaround in NFL history following a Sunday Night Football game — the Bears hadn’t traveled to Detroit on Thanksgiving since 2014. 

The Bears, too, are likely to be in prime time plenty in 2019 as networks look to maximize on the team’s resurgence, talent and personalities. In addition to the teams always targeted for prime time based on their audience — the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers — networks are showing interest in the Bears, Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams for featured or prime time slots, per SBJ. The Bears play four of those teams in 2019: The Packers, Cowboys (at home), Chiefs (at home) and Rams (in Los Angeles), as well as a home date against the Philadelphia Eagles that could interest networks. 

The Bears are already locked into an October game in London against the Oakland Raiders, with WGN Radio’s Adam Hoge reporting that game is likely to take place at Wembley Stadium and not Tottenham Hotspur FC’s new stadium. Last season’s Philadelphia Eagles-Jacksonville Jaguars game was meant to be played at Spurs’ new stadium, but delays in its opening forced that game to Wembley a day before a critical Premier League match between Tottenham and Manchester City, leaving the field in horrendous condition

Matt Nagy doesn't want Eddy Pineiro looking over his shoulder as Bears' kicking competition hits final stretch

USA Today

Matt Nagy doesn't want Eddy Pineiro looking over his shoulder as Bears' kicking competition hits final stretch

Eddy Pineiro said Sunday he knows he’s on thin ice, even after the Bears made him the only kicker on their roster in waiving Elliott Fry. But coach Matt Nagy doesn’t want him thinking that when he lines up for a field goal in the Bears’ final practices and preseason games. 

It’s a tough balance to strike, especially for a team and region still scarred by the infamous double-doink nearly eight months ago. 

“It’s really easy in Chicago as a head coach of the Chicago Bears, as a fan of the Chicago Bears, as the media (covering) the Chicago Bears, as the team of the Chicago Bears, it’s really easy for us to just destroy every missed kick,” Nagy said. “And I think we have to keep those things in a little perspective and not get too crazy over a missed kick here or there. And so there’s that balance though, right? That’s where we’re at. 

“… Does it matter, or does he think that if he misses a kick he’s out of here, no, he doesn’t think that because I told him just go kick, worry about the next kick, the next play. It’s the same thing I tell Mitchell (Trubisky) after he throws a pick, worry about the next play.”

Nagy said he’s been pleased with how Pineiro has bounced back from missed kicks, and knows those misses will happen. The question is if they’re happening too frequently for Pineiro to make this team, with these last two preseason games looming as critical data points. 

Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace have been open about monitoring kicking situations around the league to see if a better kicker than Pineiro could become available. What, for example, Joey Slye does with the Carolina Panthers or Cole Hedlund with the Indianapolis Colts — two kickers the Bears will have scouted in person by the end of the preseason — will carry significant weight against Pineiro’s production with the Bears. 

With 10 days remaining until cuts, it’s unclear if the Bears’ answer to their kicking woes is on their team or is elsewhere around the league. But time is running out, and every make or miss will be even more amplified leading up to Labor Day weekend. 

Nagy said he talked with Pineiro about these last few practices and games, and while he wouldn’t divulge what those conversations entailed, it sounded as if the second-year coach wanted to convey support for the only kicker on his roster. 

“I have his back,” Nagy said. “And confidence is big for any position. I don’t want Eddy thinking that every missed kicked that he makes, uh oh, they’re looking for somebody else, etc. Just go out there and just kick.”

Grizzly Details

Sports Illustrated’s Kayln Kahler published a detailed story about the Bears’ kicking competition to date, with plenty of interesting anecdotes (and pictures) from rookie minicamp’s nine-kicker sideshow. Give it a read here if you haven’t already

Nagy said he hadn’t seen the article, which didn’t paint the Bears’ search for a kicker in an particularly positive light. At least one kicker questioned the role of Jamie Kohl — the kicking coach brought in as a consultant — in the process, while the Bears’ use of advanced tracking devices raised some eyebrows, too:

“Why does [mph] even matter?” asks one kicker, who requested anonymity for fear of hurting his chances to latch on with another team. “If it’s going in, it’s going in. I think they are overanalyzing it. Find a kicker, bring him in. If he does well, keep him going. If he cracks, then let him go.”

Nagy, though, said he felt like the Bears’ search for a kicker has been a positive in that the team committed to “turn over every stone” to discover Parkey’s replacement. Still, after Fry was released on Sunday, none of the nine kickers present at rookie minicamp remained on the roster (the Bears acquired Pineiro shortly after that weekend). 

“Whatever competition you’re in, when there’s a bunch of people and you either stay or go, you’re working through some adversity and you’re showing what you can do,” Nagy said. “Whoever of those kickers that were here, we had a reason for bringing them in, and a reason for not keeping them. It’s nothing personal – it’s just what we saw. 

“It’s where we’re at right now, and I just feel like Eddy’s done a great job of being put in situations. And now in preseason, given an opportunity to do well, he’s done well, but how’s he going to do going forward?”

That question, ultimately, will determine if the Bears’ search for a kicker in the wake of Parkey’s double-doink was a positive or a negative. And we won’t begin know the answer to it until the night of Sept. 5. 

Kyle Long knows he messed up, and is ready to do what it takes to put the fighting incidents behind him

Kyle Long knows he messed up, and is ready to do what it takes to put the fighting incidents behind him

Kyle Long understands the position he’s put himself in. 

It wasn’t a week to remember for the Bears’ starting guard, who got into two separate fights over the span of three practices. Despite the relatively small likelihood he would have played, as punishment, Long was subsequently left off the team flight to New York for their preseason game against the Giants. 

“Obviously, what I did was absolutely unacceptable,” Long said after Tuesday’s practice. “As a human being, as a teammate, without question what I did was uncalled for. It was so far over the line that it was on me to handle that internally, and speak to the people that I needed to speak to.” 

Everyone around Halas Hall chalked up Long’s first scuffle with Akiem Hicks as nothing more than training camp frustrations. “Let’s clarify this: Everybody has a temper,’’ Hicks said. ‘‘Everybody gets upset. If somebody spills their coffee, you’re gonna get upset.

It was the second fight — one that saw Long remove undrafted rookie defensive end Jalen Dalton’s helmet, hit him with it, and then toss said helmet off the field — that forced the Bears’ hand. 

“It reflected poorly on the organization, the city, and the offensive line room,” he said. “That was never my intention. Moving forward, I intend to make living amends.”

Long wouldn’t go into much depth about the reason behind either fight, only mentioning that he “got a little frustrated, and it boiled over.” Talking with media after practice, he stressed the importance of publicly clearing the air before he, or the team, could move forward. 

“I think it's important and I know that the fans have a very close eye or touch on the pulse of the team of what's going on,” he said. “If I’m a fan, the last thing I want to hear about is a fight at practice. It's a distraction from what we're trying to do, which is go out and get ready for the Packers eventually and go put together some wins in the football season.” 

Before the whistle, Long’s had one of the best camps of a career that’s now going on seven seasons. The three-time Pro Bowler said that he hasn’t been this healthy since his rookie year, and that he’d “put this camp up there with any of them [he’d] be apart of.” With the air cleared and all parties on the same page, both Long and the Bears consider the fights a closed case. 

“We’re past it,” Matt Nagy added. “Now it’s not about talking anymore. For us, it’s about everybody showing what we can do. It’s showing by your actions, whether that’s being a good football player or being a good person. 

“I always tell my kids, ‘Don’t talk about it; be about it.’ So it’s time to start being about it.”