Facing a fourth-and-10 at the Green Bay Packers’ 33-yard line, with 19 minutes remaining in a 7-3 game, Matt Nagy did not elect to bring out his rookie field goal kicker for what would've been a 51-yard try.
The play resulted in an uninspiring Mitch Trubisky three-yard scramble, with the Bears turning the ball back over to the Green Bay Packers in what wound up being a 10-3 loss Thursday night at Soldier Field.
It’s been 16 years since an NFL team converted a fourth-and-10 without using a fake punt in the third quarter of a regular season game, per Pro Football Reference.
Nagy’s explanation for not attempting a long field goal was that special teams coordinator Chris Tabor didn’t feel it was in the range of rookie kicker Eddy Pineiro going into the south end zone.
“I’m just putting trust into what our special teams coaches are saying, and so if they feel like at one end it's different than the other, that's just what he told me, and we have to stick by it,” Nagy said. “If we start breaking that and start reaching and we go out there and he kicks a 51-yarder and misses it and now they get the ball at that spot, it just breaks our rules.”
Pineiro made a 58-yard field goal in the Bears’ third preseason game last month, though that came indoors at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Indianapolis Colts. The longest kick he’s made in a game at Soldier Field remains 39 yards, which he hit in the Bears’ final preseason game a week ago. Pineiro made a 38-yarder in the first half of Thursday’s game that represented the Bears’ only points.
”I thought I had a chance to go out there,” Pineiro said. “He made the right call. We’re trying to score touchdowns. I wasn’t surprised by it. It was within my range. He made a decision. We stand by his decision.”
Nagy mentioned his adherence to the reports he receives about Pineiro’s range during the preseason. He and Tabor have a plan, and don’t want to deviate from it based on the whims of a game.
Still, trying to convert a fourth-and-10 in that situation — especially with the Bears’ offense sputtering (Trubisky missed an open Cordarrelle Patterson on the previous play) — is a low-percentage play. Perhaps Nagy’s decision was a window into just how rigid he and Tabor’s plan is, and will be, for Pineiro in at least the early part of 2019.
“So I have trust in him making — he's made multiple kicks past,” Nagy said. “But there's certain situations, whatever it is, whether it's the wind or whatever, that Tabes gives me that number, and I go with that.”