Bernstein: SI Raises Questions On Bears' Kicker Saga

The quest to replace Cody Parkey has been over-complicated torture.

Dan Bernstein
August 21, 2019 - 2:00 pm
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​​​(670 The Score) It was several thousand words of descriptive and revealing reporting about the Bears' bizarre and over-complicated process to find a new placekicker, but it all boils down to this:

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What the hell are they doing?

Sports Illustrated writer Kalyn Kahler tracked down a number of the eight kickers cut along the way to this point, a saga that now sees Eddy Pineiro as the last man alive and kicking, at least until the next wave of available names becomes known. She also spoke with some of the hired-hand long snappers and sources around the NFL for some opinions on how this is all being handled ever since Cody Parkey missed the field-goal attempt last January that was supposed to move the Bears a step closer to the Super Bowl.

In short, everybody seems to think it's uncomfortable and largely unnecessary for a results-based job in which quality is hard to assess until it matters. While coach Matt Nagy has seemed to relish the head-on embrace of such a painful moment in an effort to demystify it -- his way of steering the sub toward the torpedo before it can arm itself -- this needless expenditure of energy may be backfiring and actually adding what one kicker described as negative vibes.

Anybody who gets cut might have sour grapes, and it's important to keep that in mind as we interpret what we read after the fact, but a couple headlines emerge from the story that merit attention.

The first is this line: "Several sources active in the kicking community say Parkey is clearly better than anyone the Bears brought in this offseason." That fact can stand on its own as sufficiently alarming without much further examination.

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And then we have the focus on self-styled kicking guru Jamie Kohl, who seems to be a walking conflict of interest now that he has been hired by the team as a full-time coach. Kohl runs a kicking school that has become the source of rankings used by colleges content to outsource the scouting of the position. Only those who attend Kohl's camps or clinics are eligible for such a list, however.

Even though Kohl employed TrackMan swing-analysis technology as an objective measurement of this competition, he chose not to share the data collected with the players themselves and instead posted their daily evaluations in cryptic phrases on a sheet of paper. It had at least one participant believing that Kohl is intent on tilting the field for his own guys, burnishing his personal credentials.  

So it's reasonable to wonder if the desperation and urgency of general manager Ryan Pace and Nagy have allowed them to be used here. At wit's end after multiple failures to stabilize a position of outsized importance, they turn to someone who looks like he should be able to fix their problem for them, a specialist for the specialist.

A national publication's closer look that involved opinions from multiple NFL sources has painted a picture of distress rather than control, more nervousness than calm.

These kicks are the pressured moments that make or break seasons and careers, and the tortured operation to find the right man for the job may have become one itself.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in midday. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.