The Chicago Bears brought on an insurance policy at the kicker position
In what’s already become a one-of-a-kind NFL season, the Chicago Bears added a bit to the league-wide intrigue when they announced that they planned to keep two kickers over the course of the season.
Head coach Matt Nagy announced yesterday that, due to Eddy Pineiro’s minor injury — he hilariously called it “a little bit of a groin” — Chicago will take precautions in bringing on a second kicker. Infrequent as it is, maintaining an insurance policy in the current pandemic is a proactive move, even if both don’t make the official 53-man roster.
Under the NFL rules, the Bears will plan to put Pineiro on the 53-man roster, and put Santos on the 16-man practice squad, per The Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs. They can keep him ready, in the event that Pineiro would have to quarantine, or succumb to another injury.
Last season, Pineiro had the unenviable task of following up Cody Parkey and the “double-doink,” a development that put an unusually bright spotlight on a kicker. He responded well, draining 23-of-28 kicks, and going 27-of-29 on extra-point attempts, and really hit his stride at the end of the 2019 season.
It’s unclear as to what the nature of Pineiro’s groin injury really is. Nagy referred to it as “minor,” but to play devil’s advocate, the May 2019 trade that brought him over to the Bears came off the backs of Pineiro being put on season-ending injured reserve with … you guessed it … a groin injury.
Was a backup kicker always in the plans this year?
When asked about it, Nagy said that Santos was here because of a “plan we had all along,” in having a backup kicker. It feels important to note that Nagy flirted with the idea of Santos starting in Week One if Pineiro wasn’t ready; he’s yet to kick during training camp.
Similar to the quarterback competition, Nagy and the coaching staff find familiarity with this signing. Santos kicked as a Kansas City Chief during Nagy’s regime with Andy Reid and went 89-of-105 (84.8 percent). It’s a bit concerning, though, that this will be his sixth time changing years since entering the NFL in 2014.
But, at the end of the day, the Chicago Bears have to hope that their offense isn’t putting the outcomes of games in the (hands? groins?) of placekickers. 52.1 percent of their red zone appearances ended in field goals, and that ranked 24th in the NFL.
Frank as it may sound, the more we’re discussing kickers, the less positive the outlook likely is. Regardless of who opens against Detroit, the common goal remains the same: keep the ball within the goalposts.