2019 was anything but good for the Bears. Ending the season with a record of 8-8, it didn’t’ feel like the 2018 Bears team with a smashing record of 12-4. One silver lining was their new kicker, Eddy Piñeiro. Piñeiro, the 2nd year player from the University of Florida who held the highest kicking percentage in the nation (94.4%); he was drafted in 2017 by to the Oakland Raiders where unfortunately he had a groin muscle injury and sat out in 2018.
Since being traded to Chicago, Piñeiro was responsible for a few game winning field goals (@ Vikings, game winning field goal 21-19; @ Broncos, game winning field goal 16-14) as well as the only scorer in a few Bears games (Packers won 10-3; Chiefs won 26-3). His field goal percentage in his first season was at 82.1%, ahead of the Bears all-time leading kicker Robbie Gould, who was successful 77.1% of the time in his first season.
Looking back into Chicago’s history, they’ve had very few kickers that have made an impact on the fans. Before Piñeiro (2019-Present), there was Robbie Gould, who left in 2015; ranked amongst most Chicago Bears fans as number #1. Before him Jaret Holmes was a serious contender to do great things (2000) and before him was 1985 Super-Bowl champion Kevin Butler (1985-1995). In other words, Chicago hasn’t had many great kickers in the last 30 years. Before Piñeiro took over last season, the Bears only had Cody Parker, who infamously had his final kick with Chicago dubbed “Double-Donk”, where the football bounced off the goal post twice failing to secure Chicago their victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the playoffs (the last time the Bears were in the playoffs was during the 2010 season with Lovie Smith).
It’s important to remember that no team is complete without a kicker, but it’s also important that the team not rely solely on their kicker to save an ineffective offense to help them win games. This was not the case for Eddy Piñeiro in 2019 (with the exception of 2 games).
But the question at hand still remains – can Chicago turn Eddy into Robbie? Whilst Piñeiro already has a higher field goal completion percentage in his first year than Gould, Gould is still credited as one of Chicago’s best players of all time, not only as their all-time franchise scorer but one of the NFL’s leading point scorers. Robbie Gould came to Chicago right out of a collegiate career at Penn State, where he played under Penn State legend Joe Paterno. Gould averaged a 63% field goal completion rate and made 95% of his extra point attempts before signing with New England as a free agent. From there he signed with Baltimore for the 2005 season, but was cut after a brief stint. Gould then made his way up to Chicago.
It’s important to look at both Gould and Piñeiro as players. Both men came from well-respected football schools, though Piñeiro made a higher mark for himself statistically speaking and both had hiccups with their first NFL teams before settling in Chicago. Since he has been with the Bears, Eddy Piñeiro has kept his mental status positive, his health in good standing and his enthusiasm exactly where the rest of the team needs to focus: the love of the game!