Bears Special Teams Aggressive Except on Field Goals

Gene Chamberlain

LAKE FOREST, Ill. –There are unstated messages going around about Bears special teams, but the obvious one isn't their concern.

At least that's special teams coordinator Chris Tabor's take on the performance of his special teams groups.

The Bears decided against letting Eddy Pineiro kick a 50-yard field goal indoors on Thanksgiving in order to go for a failed fourth-and-6 play, after they'd failed to kick from 49 yards against the Rams in good weather conditions to go for it on fourth-and-9.

It would seem this could send a message about a lack of confidence in Pineiro's ability to make field goals from 47 yards and longer, but Tabor says this isn't the case.

"My message? There's no message," Tabor said. "Not discouraged at all (with Pineiro). I like the fact that we're being aggressive on the deal and if coach wanted us to kick then we would kick."

After the game Nagy said the Bears simply felt the offense was moving it well and he wanted to try and pick up the first down.

"I think he explained it pretty easy: It was first-and-32, we got it to fourth-and-6 and we were moving the ball real well," Tabor said. "I like it. But we don't get discouraged or encouraged by any of it to be honest with you."

Tabor does see opponents sending a message of respect for Bears kick return teams. He cited the squib kick Detroit got away with on Thanksgiving, the one which bounced off of Deon Bush on the Bears' front line of blockers on kick return.

Many interpreted this as an onside kick but the Lions said afterward it was merely a squib kick and they got lucky to have it bounce off of Bush to them.

"That was not on purpose," Tabor said. "That was a laser beam. That was a squib shot. I told our guys, obviously a coaching point, is get out of the way–which he was trying to do–that worked out for them. We just have to continue to be ready for that.

"I said here's the deal: we're turning into a good kick return team, and now we have to be prepared for bloops and squibs. Take that as a compliment. Now, what we do with that–we need to set (up) good field position."

There's no denying they've become more effective returning kicks. The Bears signed Patterson for several uses and one was his return abilities. They'd been last in the league in kick returns last year. 

While he hasn't really contributed much on offense, Patterson is averaging 30.9 yards a kick return. He's second in the league behind Brandon Wilson of Cincinnati (31.3). Patterson is besting his career average of 30.1 yards, which is second in league history.

Patterson's 57-yard return to start the game last Thursday came from an area where they usually down the ball.

"I mean, if the thing's still in the field of play, we'd like to push the envelope," Tabor said.

They'd like to push the envelope, sure, except when it comes to kicking field goals.