LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The only real holiday feel-good story present in a 7-8 wasted Chicago Bears season is at kicker, of all places.
Eddy Pineiro has rebounded from being labeled another Cody Parkey, after he went on a bit of a roll. In fact, coach Matt Nagy said on Monday he feels confidence in Pineiro as his kicker moving into the offseason.
Nagy even let Pineiro kick a 46-yard field goal against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday night in the 26-3 loss.
Imagine that, 46 yards.
"I feel like we're in a good place with him," said Nagy, who wouldn't let Pineiro try 47- and 48-yard field goals against the Rams a month and a half ago. "I like what he has done all year long.
"I think moving forward here, going into (next year), I think we know who he is and what we have."
Pineiro started out by missing five of his first 17 efforts, but rebounded to make seven straight. At 19 of 24, he's made 79 percent. It's not great by today's NFL standards, but at least it's a start.
The kicks in his streak haven't exactly been taxing distances. The 46-yarder was easily the longest. He also made two from 30 yards, one from 36, one from 27, from 26 and from 24.
"I think if there's one story line that we can take out of this—hey, these kickers are going to have some tough times, not only kicking at (Soldier) Field but just the kicking world in general," Nagy said. "It's not easy. And with the extra point being moved back, there are more misses.
"I like the way he has handled himself all year long. I thought yesterday was a good kick for him, for his confidence, being at home and hitting that."
Acknowledging the distance, Nagy declared any questions about the position dead.
"That was a big kick for him," he added. "Hopefully, when we reflect at the year's end, we all feel good about where we're at with him. And we feel like that we've found an answer there with him. I'm proud of him for that."
Even if the Bears have labeled him their kicker for the future, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor thinks he isn't going to be able to coast into the offseason.
"No, he's still going to be scrutinized. That's fine. That's the nature of the beast," Tabor said. "That also helps a player develop, so we don't shy away from any of that. He's developing."
The development hasn't always involved field goal kicking. Tabor pointed to a kickoff Pineiro made after a Detroit unsportsmanlike conduct penalty moved it up to the 50-yard line. Pineiro booted it high and short to the goal line to let the Bears get downfield and pin the Lions back deep.
"Let's go back to the kickoff from the 50 in the Detroit game. You know, this is his third year of playing football. OK? And to be able to knock that ball right there on the goal line and then to get a tackle inside the 20.
"That's a kick that's been developed and there's still other things that we're developing right now that it's just going to take some time," Tabor said. "But you know, I'm pleased with where he is at and where he's going."