Bears at the Bye: Eddy Pineiro has been Matt Nagy's best decision of 2019

Bryan Perez

Matt Nagy's first season as head coach of the Bears was a near-impossible act to follow. The Bears went 12-4, won the NFC North and, let's be honest, if they had a competent kicker in last year's wild-card game against the Eagles, he'd have a playoff win on his resume too.

Nagy was named the 2018 NFL Coach of the Year, but with such success comes higher expectations and unexpected challenges.

Following such a dominant season on defense, Vic Fangio was one of the hottest coaching candidates on the circuit last offseason. He was hired by the Broncos to become Denver's new head coach, which thrust Nagy into a coaching search of his own to find a new defensive coordinator.

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Enter Chuck Pagano, who after five weeks of the regular season has the Bears defense humming. There's been no regression post-Fangio. In fact, Chicago's defense is playing faster and with more physicality. There's more upside with this group under Pagano than there was with Fangio, and they've carried the Bears in their three wins out of the gate.

Nagy checked that box with no problem. But the boxes he hasn't checked this season yet are a consistent passing game and effective running game. His reputation as a standout offensive coach will slowly but surely be questioned if Mitch Trubisky and the rest of this offense don't get things figured out quickly after the bye.

One of the coaches who will be under the microscope is offensive line coach Harry Hiestand. And it's not because he's doing a bad job; his resume precedes him. Instead, the offensive line just hasn't come together through five games and the onus is on Hiestand to get them out of their funk. 

Ironically, the best decision Nagy's made so far in 2019 was the one to keep Eddy Pineiro as the team's starting kicker. Pineiro has been fantastic through five games; he's missed only one field goal attempt and it was while he was playing through injury in Week 3. Otherwise, he's been automatic. 

The Bears don't have a kicker problem anymore. Ever since Cody Parkey's double-doink that ended Chicago's season last year, the Bears' kicker situation has been under the national spotlight. From the training camp carousel of names to the sometimes awkward kicking competitions at practice, the end result has made it all worth it. Pineiro is a stud.

At least, so far.

We can't close out our Bears at the Bye without discussing the punter, Pat O'Donnell. He's been a mainstay on special teams since 2014 and he's doing just enough to keep that streak going into the future. He's 13th in the league in net average yards per punt, which isn't great but isn't bad either. Essentially, it's another classic O'Donnell season.

Bears coaching grade at the bye: C+

Bears special teams grade at the bye: B+ 

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Bears at the Bye: Eddy Pineiro has been Matt Nagy's best decision of 2019 originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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