When the Bears signed kicker Ramiz Ahmed, alarms went off. Despite having an up-and-down first season with the Bears, the job seemed to firmly be Eddy Piñeiro's, and the last thing literally anyone wanted to go through again was the 2019 kicking circus. Then, like a month later, Ahmed was cut and the message was clear: it is Piñeiro's job ... at least for now. Talking with media on Wednesday afternoon, here's what special teams coordinator Chris Tabor had to say about it:
The thing that’s different this year than other years is that we’re down to 80 as opposed to 90, so you have to make some decisions there. It comes to a numbers game.
"He's our kicker because we can't really afford to bring in someone else right now" is not an especially glowing recommendation for Piñeiro, but it's a better fate than Ahmed got. Tabor went on to say that "you expect him to make kicks. You want him to make every kick. But history has shown that doesn’t always happen." Piñeiro hit 23 of his 28 field goal attempts last season, but was not often challenged from distance after his disastrous performance against the Rams; he made his last 11 FGs of the year, but only one was from farther than 40 yards.
Earlier in the summer, Tabor made a point to mention that he thought Bears fans would see a "bigger, stronger Piñeiro" in 2020. Kicking in Chicago requires a strong leg, but as Tabor made abundantly clear, there's only one thing standing in Piñeiro's way from firmly securing the job.
"It’s about makes and misses, and obviously you want to have more makes," he said. "So the pressure of that is, if a guy doesn’t go out there and perform, then teams have to make a decision on what they are going to do. Whether there’s another person there or not. We know that our position … I said it last time: We haven’t arrived at that position at all. So we’re looking forward to this next challenge and he just has to keep progressing and getting better."