Bears rally around Eddy 'Dinero' Pineiro, the kicker with swag

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro’s dramatic 53-yard game-winning field goal on Sunday earned the former undrafted free agent a new nickname.

Eddy Dinero. As in the Spanish word for money.

Pineiro’s money kick against the Denver Broncos saved Chicago from starting 0-2.

We all know what happens to NFL teams that start 0-2, right?

Since 1990, according to ESPN Stats & Information, only 12.6% of the total teams to start a season 0-2 made the playoffs. That's a worst-case scenario for the Bears, who fancied themselves Super Bowl contenders after going 12-4 and winning the NFC North in coach Matt Nagy’s first season in 2018.

Enter Pineiro, the fall’s unlikely hero.

“His personality is infectious just because we all know when you have somebody that's just a good person, they smile all the time, they say thank you and please all the time, they're very gracious, they're very humble, that's who he is as a person,” Nagy said on Monday.

“And then as a player you take that and you see what he does and they talk about the swag that he has and everything.”

Rarely are the words "kicker" and "swag" used in the same breath, but for Pineiro, it fits.

“The players love him and he's got that swag, that's who we are as a team,” Nagy said. “And he's got a new nickname now too. I definitely don't think it's like swag or a good dancer or anything like that, I think it's more so just he's pretty like confident, like 'You know what man, I just freakin' nailed that.' And you could tell the second that ball left his foot yesterday, you could hear the thump and you knew that ball was going through.”

Kickers walk a fine line. Some positional players are slow to embrace them. Most eventually realize they need them. Good teams have a good kicker and good teams without a good kicker (like the 2018 Bears) are eventually exposed.

Cody Parkey made it hard for the Bears to trust the kicking game. Can you blame the players for being cynical during Chicago’s offseason kicker search? The team just lived through Parkey’s eight misses and the double-doink that ended their season against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC divisional round of the playoffs.

And now they were supposed to be excited that nine kickers showed up at rookie minicamp, or that Nagy used creative techniques in OTAs and minicamp -- such as kicking in complete silence and repeated attempts from the doink distance of 43-yards -- to test the kickers?

Oh, by the way, the Bears’ kicking ensemble missed a ton of field goals in the spring and early summer. And that’s being generous.

By training camp, however, Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara said the players noticed something different about Pineiro.

"Whenever you have a new guy come in, you want to see if that particular player has the 'dawg' in him -- meaning that raw, doesn't care, just going to go in there and compete persona," Amukamara said following Sunday's win. "All throughout training camp, OTAs, we've just seen that in Eddy. He's always had ice in his veins. When he missed one, he was never shaken over it."

Pineiro -- a member of the Bears since May -- has become, believe it or not, one of them.

“You know, Eddy’s situation is similar to all of ours,” Bears guard Kyle Long said in the Mile High Stadium visitors' locker room. “You media have a job to do. We have a job to do. Your job is to write interesting stories and generate interest. Our job is to ignore all of that. Eddy put his head down and ignored all of it. He just focused on making kicks. He didn’t get caught up in all of it. I think that’s pretty cool.”

Pineiro, who turned 24 last Thursday, is 4-for-4 on field goals after two weeks, including three makes against the Broncos (40, 52, 53).

Chicago isn’t out of the woods. The offense is a mess. The pressure keeps piling on quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who (in case you haven’t heard) the Bears took over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in the 2017 draft. And Pineiro's first big kick only won a Week 2 game against the Broncos and nothing else.

Quite frankly, the Bears are fortunate to be 1-1.

But the kicking dilemma appears to be resolving itself in the Bears' favor.

“We talked about creating and craving pressure with the kickers over the summer,” Nagy said. “I credit our guys for just being able to go ahead and turn over every rock in the summer to figure out who is [going to be] that [kicker for us].

“I feel like we found him, and I’m just super stoked for Eddy.”