LAKE FOREST – Bears coach Matt Nagy made it clear following Sunday’s 17-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams that the Bears have no plans to bring in competition for kicker Eddy Pineiro.
The 24-year-old from Miami missed two field goals Sunday. Both came in the first quarter, the first from 48 yards and the second from 47.
Much as they have with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the Bears have sent the message that they will sink or swim with Pineiro as their kicker in 2019.
“We’re all frustrated,” Nagy said Thursday at Halas Hall. “He knows he wants to make those, but now it’s going to be a challenge to see him come back here and nail it. Like I said, I have ultimate faith that he’s going to do that. And now it’s just, we’ll see when he’s given a chance.”
Pineiro’s misses prompted comment from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot during a news conference Wednesday. Lightfoot said her 91-year-old mother will likely watch the Bears against the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day. Lightfoot, a longtime Bears season ticket holder, didn't commit to spending her holiday in front of the TV.
“The question is, will it be worth watching?” Lightfoot said.
Asked if she had any advice for the Bears, Lightfoot said, “Find an offense. And Eddy Pineiro, find your leg again.”
Inside Halas Hall, the Bears are less pessimistic.
Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said Pineiro practiced Wednesday at Soldier Field in preparation for Sunday’s home game against the New York Giants.
Tabor isn’t worried about Pineiro’s confidence level.
“He’s great, mentally,” Tabor said. “To be honest, I don’t even worry about that. I don’t overreact and I don’t under-react. It is what it is. He’s a young kicker, he’s hit a little bit of a rut and our job is to bet him back in a groove.”
Pineiro declined to speak with the media Wednesday and Thursday.
Tabor said Pineiro’s first miss Sunday, which sailed wide left, was a case of swinging too hard. The second kick, which went wide right, was overcompensation for the first miss.
“The classic example, to be honest with you, of a cold-weather kicker going to a warm place,” Tabor said. “You kind of get mesmerized a little bit with: I’m going to have a big night, conditions are perfect.”
While, yes, Pineiro kicks at cold, windy Soldier Field, this is still a kicker who grew up in Miami, played college ball at Florida and spent last season in Oakland. He’s not exactly a stranger to warm weather.
According to Tabor, during warmups Pineiro made field goals from 60 yards in both directions Sunday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
“I understand the narrative going [into the season], I really do,” said Tabor, referring to the Bears' kicking competition. “And it’s been quiet for a long time. It reared its head on Sunday. Our job is to help him in this little dip right here."
Pineiro won the starting job after the Bears traded a conditional seventh-round pick to Oakland for him. He became a hero in the Bears’ Week 2 win over the Denver Broncos, kicking a last-second field goal to seal the win.
Life as a kicker, though, can be a fickle existence. Hero one day, goat the next. Pineiro missed a potential game-winner from 41 yards in a Week 8 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers at Soldier Field.
Pineiro did not attempt a field goal in either the Week 9 loss to Philadelphia or the Week 10 win over Detroit – though he did miss an extra point against the Lions (his only missed extra point this year).
“You have somebody that cares, that wants to make kicks,” Nagy said. “He’s competitive and he wants another opportunity.”