When one peruses NFL.com for statistical information regarding the only two kickers on the current Bears roster – Eddy Pineiro and Elliot Fry – one is met with a disconcerting sentence:
“This player does not have any statistics…”
And so sums up the kicker situation for the 2019 edition of the Bears. Maybe one of these two kids will be the next great kicker in Chicago. Maybe both will completely flame out over the summer. You don’t know. I don’t know. The Bears don’t know. And therein lies the problem. The Bears are heading into this campaign with their most talented roster in a few generations, as genuine contenders to win the Super Bowl, and they’re doing so with a significant liability at this critical position.
The scary part of this process is the Bears could potentially not find out if the kicker position will cripple them until opening night against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. Camp success is by no means a precursor to season success, no matter how many gimmicks Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace create around the competition. And even if Pineiro and Fry are both perfect through the summer’s fake games, a crucial miss late in that Thursday nighter will make them THE story on Friday morning.
Imagine making the bold move on draft night to get up one spot for the quarterback you covet. And imagine making the franchise-altering trade to acquire one of the game’s best defenders. Now imagine doing those things and risking everything by only having on your roster two kickers, neither of whom has ever ATTEMPTED a field goal in the NFL. To quote Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, “Sounds crazy, no?”
It is crazy. It is also negligent. NFL teams are far too close talent-wise these days and we consistently see playoff games decided by a kick here or kick there. The 2019 Bears are going to be a good team, no matter who is kicking the football. But they won’t be a championship team if Fry or Pineiro doesn’t emerge as a better-than-average option at this pivotal position. And there’s no evidence to suggest they will…or they won’t.