THE MORNING AFTER: A Bears’ season where questions were created
MINNEAPOLIS – Are you a “Glass Half-Full” person? Then here’s a positive from a rough four months for Chicago’s NFL team.
The quest that began the moment the season ended in January and was determined through somewhat bizarre and intense competition from rookie camp through Bourbonnais was successful. There was doubt that crept in at times, but as the season ends, the 2019 Chicago Bears have their future set at one position.
The Bears have a kicker. Hallelujah, the Bears have a kicker.
Eddy Pineiro, who endured a mid-season slump, hit the final 11 field goal attempts of the season, including four against the Vikings in an anti-climatic victory in the season finale on Sunday. He hit all the kicks he took in Green Bay on December 15th, and a 46-yarder on Sunday night against the Chiefs on December 22nd, finishing the season 23-of-28 on field goals.
That 82.1 percentage isn’t earth-shattering, but considering the entire ordeal the team went through to replace Cody Parkey after his infamous “double-doink” against the Eagles, at least they’ve got their guy to start next season. Matt Nagy even gave an assurance that Pineiro would return to the Bears as their top kicker once training camp opens next year.
Who knows, because the Bears spent the 2019 season creating more questions about their future than anyone would have liked.
The confidence in Matt Nagy that fans had during the 2018 season, especially as a play-caller, has been eroded. Inconsistencies in the run-pass ratio (remember seven carries against the Saints) and unusual play calls at times took away all those memories of “Willy Wonka” and “Santa’s Sleigh.”
Mitchell Trubisky was as inconsistent as the plays that were called for him as he saw a decrease most of his numbers from his second season. That wasn’t supposed to happen for a quarterback in the second year of an “innovative” offensive system, and it’s cast some doubt on whether he’s really the man to lead the Bears at the position. His 83 quarterback rating ranked him 28th among signal-callers in the league, with the two other quarterbacks drafted in the first round in 2017 finding their way into the top 11.
Who is to mainly blame for the offense being ranked 29th in yards (296.8) and points (17.5) per game? The jury seems split on whether it’s mainly Trubisky or Nagy’s fault.
From the quarterback to the calls, the offensive line and player usage, everything is one big mystery as the Bears head towards now what looks like a make-or-break 2020 season. General manager Ryan Pace, Nagy, and Trubisky are, in some ways, a package deal, and their futures could depend upon what happens over the course of the next year.
Was 2018 the fluke of a season, or was this year just anomaly for a team with a bright future? That’s a great question that has many steps toward being answered thanks to four months of inconsistent football, and the debate on it will be fierce till next fall.
But hey, at least the Bears have a kicker.