Almost eight months later, the Bears are still deciding on a kicker
BOURBONNAIS – It’s still a touchy subject when it comes to Bears’ fans nearly eight months after it happened.
The “Double-Doink” brings out a cringe from here in Chicago when they see it on highlights or when it’s brought up in conversation. The missed kick in the Wild Card game that would have advanced the Bears in the playoffs led to Cody Parkey’s departure after one tumultuous season.
Getting rid of him was a necessity, and so was finding his replacement. But that person has yet to be found.
Eight kickers were in rookie camp to try out for the job. Then a minor trade was made with the Raiders to get another. After the conclusion of OTA workouts and mandatory mini-camp, only two guys remain on the roster: Eddy Pineiro, the kicker from Oakland, and Elliott Fry, a former AAF kicker.
Not that it’s given Ryan Pace any more direction as to who will have the job on opening night September 5th against the Packers. At the moment, there isn’t even a leader between the two.
“To be honest, it’s even,” said Pace when asked which kicker was ahead in his pre-training camp news conference in Decatur on Sunday. “That’s why we’re excited about that battle going into training camp, along with a lot of other battles. Obviously, we’ll be watching that one.”
Especially since the kicking position brought a premature end to what was a nearly magical turnaround season of 2018. The lasting image was the ball hitting the upright twice, bringing a sudden and stunning end to a season where the Bears went 12-4 for their first NFC North title since 2010.
That’s why it was a topic at the team’s season-ending news conference, throughout the offseason, and were the first questions asked to Pace and Matt Nagy at their news conference on Sunday. It’s not even a new problem for the Bears, who have dealt with issues finding a consistent kicker since the release of Robbie Gould before the 2016 season.
Once again, the question lingers in 2019 despite having most of the other positions on the team close to set. Fry and Pineiro could end up being the selections or perhaps a veteran could pop up before the start of the season. Pace didn’t waste a draft pick or trade more of them to find the guy for this season, choosing the tryout process and then narrowing it down to two for the moment.
“We can point to a lot of teams around the league that have kickers in successful situations that have come a number of ways,” said Pace. “Some of them are this way. So ideal for the franchise, we hit on a young kicker long term, and we’ll march forward that way.”
For now, it’s Fry vs Pineiro for the shot to replace Parkey, and perhaps bring consistency to a position that’s been the opposite since 2016.
“We need to figure out this position. We need to understand it’s a crucial spot for us that we’ve got to get right, and I think the more opportunities that you have for these guys to prove who they are and what they can do, we’ll take them.”
Certainly camp will give the pair plenty of chances to finally put the “Double-Doink” behind them.