Bears coach Matt Nagy dismisses ball-spot criticism on Eddy Pineiro’s last-second kick
After listening to Nagy’s responses Wednesday, the most logical understanding of what happened at the end of the Bears’ loss to the Chargers was that ball placement wasn’t part of the decision-making process leading up to Pineiro’s potential game-winner.
No one could blame coach Matt Nagy for wanting to move on from the end of the Bears’ loss Sunday to the Chargers and shifting attention to their upcoming game against the Eagles, but it remains under investigation.
On top of all the evident ways in which the Bears botched their chance at winning on a last-second field goal, kicker Eddy Pineiro said it wasn’t his preference to set the ball up on the left hash for his 41-yard try. He missed, and the Bears lost 17-16 to fall to 3-4.
So how, with all the strategizing and attention to detail that typically goes into coaching an NFL game, did the Bears give Pineiro the least advantageous angle when they had total control over ball placement when quarterback Mitch Trubisky kneeled on the previous play?
‘‘We have a communication process that we used, and we felt very comfortable in that situation with what we did,’’ Nagy said Wednesday. ‘‘For me, it gets hard because . . . I‘m just trying to get going with Philly.
‘‘But that’s where we were. The communication between all of us was that, from 41 yards, he was going to make that kick. And he didn’t. . . . Whether it’s on the right hash, the middle or the left hash, he wants to make it, and he didn’t.”
The most logical assertion, based on that response and others from Nagy, is that the spot of the ball simply wasn’t a concern as he made decisions at the end of the game.
Nagy didn’t answer a direct question about whether there was a miscommunication and gave no specifics about how it happened that his kicker preferred a different angle and the team didn’t get it for him. He also returned to his point that any 41-yard kick shouldn’t be a problem for an NFL kicker.
‘‘At that point in time, where we were, everything included, we felt really good about Eddy, in a lot of ways, making that kick,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘With us feeling that good about everything, he missed the kick. He said it [Tuesday] that he’s as upset as anyone and he wants to make it.
‘‘I’m OK with where we were. I want to make it next time.’’
Nagy kept saying that the Bears have a ‘‘communication process’’ and that he has stopped thinking about that sequence to devote his full attention to preparing for the Eagles on Sunday.
One potential breakdown was in the communication between Nagy and Trubisky. Perhaps Nagy specified a different spot for the kneel-down rather than to take the snap from the left hash and step straight backward. It is common for a quarterback to move sideways to a set up the kick in such scenarios.
But Trubisky shot that down by saying, ‘‘Whatever [Nagy] tells me to do, that’s what I do.’’
He grew irritated amid follow-up questions on the exact order Nagy gave him.
‘‘Did you see what happened on the field?’’ Trubisky said. ‘‘That’s what we talked about.’’
Pineiro never intended for any of this to drag on and admitted kicking from the far left wasn’t ideal only when pressed.
Regardless of whether Pineiro had a say in it, the issue should have been apparent to the Bears. He is a right-footed kicker, the wind was blowing to the left and he hasn’t opted to kick from that hash on any of his 12 extra points. The kicker picks the spot on those plays, and Pineiro has chosen the center 10 times and the right hash twice.
Much to Nagy’s annoyance, this probably won’t be the end for this testy topic. Special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor is scheduled to talk with the media Thursday.