Eddy Pineiro

Robbie Gould has nothing but fond feelings for Chicago: 'Once a Bear, always a Bear'

Robbie Gould has nothing but fond feelings for Chicago: 'Once a Bear, always a Bear'

MIAMI — Robbie Gould hasn’t played for the Bears since 2016, but his love for the team that he spent over a decade kicking for hasn’t faded one bit. Now playing in his second Super Bowl, Gould still holds his time in the Windy City in the highest regards.

“This is a very special year for me,” Gould said. “I love the city of Chicago. I always will. That love I have for the city and the Bears organization will never go away. I said it when I got cut: Once a Bear, always a Bear. I truly mean that.”

Gould left the Bears as the team’s all-time leader in career points (1,207), field goals made (276), and career field goals of at least 50 yards (23). He’s still beloved by the people of Chicago, and more recently won NBC Sports Chicago’s “Chicago Football Madness” contest last offseason, beating all-time greats along the way. 

“I played 11 years there, I’m the all-time leading scorer," he said. "I think I have most of the field goal records there. You know, there’s a spot in my heart that my kids will learn Bear Down and all that when the time’s right.” 

Talking with the media on Monday night, the kicker briefly touched on the Bears’ current kicking situation. Gould kept an eye on the situation as the Bears went through a well-publicized debacle that eventually led to Eddy Pineiro, and had empathy for the first year kicker who faced many of the same ups and downs that Gould did. 

“Yeah I thought he did a great job,” he said. “I thought he came in and played very well. Obviously he played through an injury, and if you take away the Los Angeles Rams’ game, he had a very solid season.” 

This Sunday, Gould will attempt to bring a second Lombardi Trophy home to the family. His brother Chris coaches for the Denver Broncos, and won a Super Bowl with the team in 2016. 

“I was telling the young guys, I went [to a Super Bowl] in my first full year with the Bears,” he said. “And all I remember was ‘oh, this is nothing. I’ll be back.’ And now 13 years later, I’m back in the Super Bowl. You never know when you’re going to do it, you never know how it’s going to happen, you never know when it’s going to happen.” 

“I don’t believe you can chase a Super Bowl. I don’t think you can go team to team to try and win it.” 

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Eddy Piñeiro secured his job status for 2020, even if he'll be the last one to admit it

Eddy Piñeiro secured his job status for 2020, even if he'll be the last one to admit it

You know Lori Lightfoot must have some political power when she can fix the Bears’ kicking game with one public statement. It’s been six weeks since Chicago’s mayor went in front of TV cameras and challenged Eddy Piñeiro to “find [his] leg” again after an 0-for-2 performance against the Rams. The Bears’ kicker hasn’t missed since, converting all 11 attempts. 

“I honestly want the season to keep going,” Piñeiro said after hitting his second game-winner of the season, a 22-yarder to beat the Vikings 21-19 Sunday. “It’s sad the season is over at this point in time. I’m just happy that I ended on a good note. It’s now time to get ready for next year where I’ll need to compete in order to get my job back.”

He was staunchly uninterested in postgame job speculation, even though his 4-4 performance was the latest example of why there probably won’t be much this offseason. He scored 13 of the Bears’ 21 points – it’s not like they can really afford to start over again, and after last offseason, why would they want to?

“For us, you all know, that was a huge, huge, big void that we had going into this year,” Matt Nagy said. “I feel pretty good that that void is filled. I feel like that’s a positive from this year.”

Piñeiro finished the season kicking at an 82% rate, which falls in the middle of the pack (19th) in the league. He went 27-for-29 on extra points, which puts him a bit lower (25th). Still, the Bears have consistently applauded the kicker’s ability to respond to adversity, and finishing the season perfectly after his worst performance of the year is a testament to the 24-year-old’s resolve. 

“The slumps, again, are natural,” Nagy added. “I think making sure that we don’t panic when you go through that slump is the most important part.” 

Piñeiro said that what helped him rebound this season was changing (read: improving) his technique. He admitted that he came into the season “kicking like a soccer player,” and that the way he was coming around on the ball wasn’t producing clean kicks. And while many point to the Rams game as his season’s low point, it was actually missing what would have been the game-winner against the other Los Angeles team that Piñeiro felt was his season’s turning point. 

“I think the biggest thing is handling adversity,” he said. “This one was big for me, especially after I lost the game against the Chargers. This was a big moment for me."

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Takeaways: Bears have a long way to go before they're playoff contenders again

Takeaways: Bears have a long way to go before they're playoff contenders again

MINNEAPOLIS – Three thoughts from the Bears’ 21-19 win against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon: 

The Bears have a LONG way to go before they’re considered playoff contenders again

Even in the win, the Bears didn't really impress on any level. Mitch Trubisky (26-for-37, 207 yards) was efficient but unspectacular in the same way that Sean Mannion, the Vikings’ backup who hadn’t started in almost three years, was. The offense managed to score only one touchdown against Minnesota’s backups and the defense managed to allow 174 rushing yards against Minnesota’s backups. Did I mention that Minnesota was playing its backups? The offensive line, which allowed four sacks and six QB hits, showed impressive push on a 14-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and then couldn’t move the ball two yards, over two plays, only two minutes later. 

The defense didn’t record a *single* sack, and hit Mannion only three times. To its credit, Chuck Pagano’s unit forced some early turnovers that gave the Bears a chance to get out ahead of a Vikings team just BEGGING for a reason to pack it in, but – and stop me if you’ve heard this before – the Bears’ red zone offense couldn’t capitalize. The only thing Sunday proved was that Bears players need to play better, Bears coaches need to coach better, and Bears execs need to make better decisions. This season was an abject failure across the board, and as it stands on Sunday afternoon, the Bears appear much closer to the NFL’s flotsam than they are to a playoff-caliber team.

Allen Robinson is the Bears’ present and future 

It cannot be overstated just how many issues the Bears have to address this offseason, and somehow, locking up Robinson long-term has steadily climbed its way to the top of the list. Matt Nagy, Trubisky and company clearly wanted to get Robinson to 100 receptions on the season, which is about the saddest silver lining you could have imagined when the Bears were getting ready for their 100th season. Robinson made some tough catches on Sunday afternoon, and generally still looked engaged on a day when that couldn’t be said of everyone. He finished the game with nine receptions for 71 yards, which is actually impressive when you factor in how horizontal the Bears’ offense went all day. Watching the offense has been about as thrilling as a root canal this season but with way more pain, so it’s nice to see *someone* play well.

Eddy Pineiro’s first season could have gone a lot worse 

Even before he hit the game-winner, Pineiro had a quietly impressive day, hitting all three field goal attempts to cap off a strong performance over the last quarter of his season. Think about his year: he won the hearts of an entire city – and a butt load of free Snickers bars – when he nailed the game-winning field goal against Denver in Week 2, and then *poof* the Bears’ kicking issues were solved. Then he missed a game-winner against the Chargers and *poof* he didn’t attempt a field goal for the following eight quarters … until he went 0-for-2 in an absolutely disastrous 60 minutes against the Rams in Los Angeles. In the span of 16 games, the 24-year-old has gone from a messiah to a pariah and then settled somewhere in the middle. You’d like to see the Bears trust him a bit more from distance, but building up the confidence of your young-but-talented kicker during a lost season isn’t the worst thing in the world.

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