Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Cody Parkey Challenge Post Six: Three become two

I was tempted to post yesterday's Bears kicking news, but I'm glad I waited until today when there's an actual transaction to report!

Chris Blewitt (He of Jamie Kohl tutelage, and thus the guy I figured might win the thing even though he has seemed like the third best kicker most of the time), has been cut. We are now down to Eddy Piniero vs. Elliot Fry,

This cut comes a day after some truly poor kicking yesterday.  Bears coverage guy Rich Campbell tweeted the following about it:

During Bears practice, with 25 alumni & their guests watching, all 3 kickers were called onto the main field to try a 42-yard FG. 1. Right post 2. Wide left 3. Wide right HC Matt Nagy, what went through your mind? “Whatever went through your mind went through my mind.”

Obviously that's a bad look for all three kickers, who continue to underwhelm under pressure at practice.  I still wonder if it's worth it for the Bears to bring in Matt Bryant and just let him have the job.  The guy is a hardened vet and has made all these kicks and more before, and the Bears would do well to just pick a solid veteran option and end this kicking story.  I also saw a guy on Twitter who said the Bears never should've cut undrafted rookie Casey Bednarski, which I agree with since he was a favorite of mine with his Janikowski-strength leg and awesome personality.

That being said, with the roster as is, I think Piniero is still the favorite given his pedigree and "previous NFL experience" (Some preseason games last year before getting injured).  With this battle though, who really knows?  All we know for today is that Chris finally blew it (Yup, I finally went with the low hanging fruit).

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Cody Parkey Challenge Post Five: A few new pressure situations, some predictable, some less so

A few new updates on this crazy Bears kicker situation.  I love tracking this thing.

The first situation was covered by The Chicago Tribune a few days ago.  At various times in practice, the Bears would put the team into a game ending pressure situation, including icing the kicker with a timeout.  On that day, Wednesday the 29th, only one kicker connected on the "game winning" field goal - Chris Blewitt.  I count that as the first time he's come up huge under pressure, which is definitely a big win for him at this point in the competition.

The second story, from today, refers to how the Bears are treating their kickers with "Augusta Silence."  A typical kicker likely experiences all sorts of noise as they're trying to make a kick.  At Bears' practices, the trend lately has been for the practice field to get completely silent - like pin drop silent - as the kicker goes to kick.  A complete and total mindfuck.  There's no real word on how specific kickers are doing with this silence, but the idea of it alone is pretty awesome. 

Even better is the fact that the team is doing it at totally random times, not just in field goal situations.  Whenever the coaches are feeling it, they'll call a kicker on the field to attempt a field goal in complete silence.  I think that's pretty amazing.  It's hard to tell which of these three guys will actually win this kicking competition, but I feel it's safe to say that if any of these three kickers win the job, they'll have certainly earned it!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Cody Parkey Challenge Post Four: Narrower Uprights

It's been a while since the last Bears kicker update, with Chris Blewitt,  Elliott Fry, and Eddy Piniero still in a heated battle for head kicker in Chicago.  However, this week has finally brought some news to the battle.  From Kayln Kahler of SI.com:

"For Chicago’s first OTA practice, the goal posts looked a little bit different. A second set of uprights were built inside the standard-width uprights, a method to narrow the target space for the kicker and increase the difficulty for each attempt. Bears kicker were two-for-three collectively on field goals using the extra-narrow uprights in full team situations. Pineiro missed the narrow uprights on his second and final attempt with the full field goal unit and defense from 40-something yards out (media were standing in the endzone, so was difficult to judge the distance), wide right."

I've heard of narrowed uprights before, and it's cool to see yet another kicking variable thrown in by the brains in Chicago, which include their special teams coordinator Chris Tabor and "kicking consultant" Jamie Kohl.  Piniero has felt like the leader in this battle to me ever since he was traded for given his pedigree, but missing a publicized kick like this likely did him no favors.  So who's to say what the pecking order is at present.  If I had to choose right now, I'd probably say Blewitt, just because he's a Kohl guy and is still around despite the other kickers both being more experienced than him.  We'll check back next time for updates!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Cody Parkey Challenge Day Three: Tonight is the night, when two become three!

Man I can't believe how many changes have happened in this kicker battle.  See posts one and two if you need to catch up.

Today the Bears made a move to further help their kicker position, trading a conditional 2021 7th rounder to the Raiders for Eddy Piniero.  The pick goes to the Raiders if Piniero is on the Bears active roster for five games.  Otherwise it doesn't...so Piniero for nothing.  Conditional trades are weird.

So who is Eddy Piniero?  He was an undrafted free agent out of Florida who was with the Raiders last preseason.  He made all three of his field goals as well as his one extra point, so he's the closest to NFL experience that the Bears have on their roster at the kicking position right now.  He was placed on the injured list with a groin injury before the season began though, so he never actually kicked in a regular season game.

That being said, he's supposedly quite good.  He was rated as one of the top kickers in the 2018 draft, and was probably going to start for the Raiders before his injury.  In two college seasons, he went 37/43 on field goal attempts, a very solid 86%.  So you have to figure he's the favorite in the Bears kicker race now.  I'll switch up my rankings to put Bryant first (Because proven veteran), Piniero second, and Fry third.  Blewitt is a distant, distant, distant fifth.  Behind Casey Bednarski, because I want that dude to kick all the field goals.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Cody Parker Challenge Day Two - Two Kickers Remain!

I wrote yesterday's post under the idea that it might take the Bears some time to find their kicker from the eight who were at tryouts the other day.  However, news came today that the Bears waived two kickers, Redford Jones and John Baron II (Who apparently had a contract as well) and that only two kickers are left: Chris Blewitt and Elliott Fry.

The Bears apparently had a mini competition today, where the kickers were given different attempts to make in head-to-head combat.  Blewitt and Fry looked okay, as apparently did Spencer Evans, but it was Jones and Casey Bednarski who ended up in the finals.  Both guys hit from 32, and both hit from 43, and Bednarski hit from 48 but Jones went wide left.  Bednarski did a backflip in celebration and the offense did updowns as punishment, further cementing Bednarski as a total badass and my favorite free agent kicker in the NFL.  Yet the Bears didn't offer Bednarski a contract and then cut Jones...so go figure.

I still stand by my rankings from yesterday, which had Matt Bryant (Who is still out there as a free agent) as #1 and Fry as #2, so Fry wouldn't be a bad winner at all.  I predicted that Blewitt might get a little more run with Jamie Kohl as a Bears consultant, and it looks like that might be somewhat true.  Based on challenges/experience, it feels like 5-6 kickers have outkicked Blewitt so far, but he still remains.  My rooting interests are with Fry for now though.  Let's hope that happens, or that the Bears get wise and actually sign Matt Bryant!