Nagy defends Bears’ exhaustive kicking search

Field Level Media

August 21, 2019 at 10:35 pm.

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy defended his team’s exhaustive search for a suitable kicker this offseason, despite criticism from a Sports Illustrated story published Wednesday.

The story included quotes from several kickers, some anonymous, who were among nine to try out for the Bears this offseason. Many of the kickers described a negative environment in the kicking room, perceived bias from consultant Jamie Kohl and Nagy’s obsession with field goals of 43 yards — the distance from which Cody Parkey missed in an attempt to win a wild-card playoff game in January.

“I understand, we brought in a lot of kickers that came in here,” Nagy told reporters Wednesday. “To me, I look at it as a positive, in the fact that we said we were going to turn over every stone to find whoever’s out there. We felt like we, at that point in time, when we brought in a bunch of kickers, we’re going to test them all out and see what they can do.”

After trying out nine kickers, the Bears kept four on their roster for an extended period, then whittled the competition to two entering training camp: Elliott Fry and Eddy Pineiro. Fry was waived on Sunday, but Nagy said that doesn’t necessarily mean Pineiro — acquired for a conditional seventh-round pick from Oakland in May — has won the job.

“Is the competition over? Between those two, yeah,” Nagy said.

The Bears hired Kohl — an independent kicking coach — to coach their own kickers in May. Multiple kickers told Sports Illustrated that Kohl appeared biased toward kickers who had previously attended his camps.

“All of Jamie’s guys, they could have shanked the kick, and it was like, ‘Oh, you have really good rotation, your foot is wrapping around the ball,'” an anonymous kicker said in the story. “I don’t think this situation will be solved or will be what the team needs to be until Jamie Kohl is gone. The way he very much tries to control a room, tries to be the alpha.”

Meanwhile, former Notre Dame kicker Justin Yoon was critical of Nagy’s repeated emphasis on 43-yard field goals.

“It’s not efficient for the team to continuously beat that one dead horse the whole time,” he said. “You have to build a system of confidence for your kicker. I don’t think that’s how the Bears are running it.”

“Is it exactly the perfect science?” Nagy asked rhetorically when discussing the offseason’s approach on Wednesday. “I don’t know that, maybe not. … I just really like how we’re going through this thing. (General manager) Ryan (Pace) and I talk about no regrets, right?”