Bernstein: Bears' Kicking Show Now Fully A Farce

June 12, 2019 - 3:00 pm
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(670 The Score) Some defining elements of theatrical farce are ridiculous, improbable and exaggerated situations, slapstick physical humor and stock characters often with overtly obvious names.

So welcome to this Matt Nagy production of "The Three (Wait ... Make That Two) Gentlemen of Lake Forest" currently enjoying an open run at Halas Hall. It may be a bit derivative, but it's a hoot.

This is where we are after the insanity of the Cody Parkey experience. Parkey was signed to a rich deal to solve the Bears' kicking problems after Connor Barth caused enough of them and then Mike Nugent, Cairo Santos and Roberto Aguayo couldn't help. It begat a 2018 season of clanging uprights that culminated in a 12-4 Bears team losing its playoff game thanks to the last Parkey miss, the 43-yarder that all too perfectly hit the left upright and then the crossbar. Parkey then chose to appear on "The Today Show" to accept maudlin praise for ... not spontaneously exploding or fleeing to Greenland or disguising himself in public with a ZZ Top beard or something. So the Bears cut him, and then the auditions began.

Rookie mini-camp in May featured not only the addition of kicking coach Jamie Kohl but eight kickers in total -- Redford Jones, Emmit Carpenter, Justin Yoon, Casey Bednarski, Elliott Fry, Spencer Evans, John Baron and Chris Blewitt -- and they were tasked with an end-of-game simulation that required they attempt one from 43 yards. Six of them missed, with Jones paying artistic homage by hitting the post.

"2-for-8," Nagy said. "That's not good enough." Then he pulled out a bottle of Maker's Mark and chugged half of it before throwing the rest through a window.

The Bears let the rookie tryout kickers go and waived Jones and Baron, leaving Fry and Blewitt.

The next day they signed eight more kickers: Todd Shanks, Albert Squibber, Bum McFail, Andy Itznogood, Ted Widewright, Dean Duckhook, Justin Short and Franz Miszt. At the end of their tryout, all eight were released, then humanely destroyed and subsequently composted.

Actually that part didn't happen, but the Bears did trade a conditional 2021 seventh-round draft pick for the Raiders' Eddie Pineiro.

And those three -- Pineiro, Fry and Blewitt -- were on the field at OTAs to be confronted with what Nagy called "Augusta silence," an eerie stillness designed to further test nerves. No word on the consideration of "Waste Management Phoenix Open screaming of 'You da man!' and "Get in the hole!'" Veteran mini-camp Tuesday featured yet another quick-fire challenge, a live-action try from 40 yards out.

Pineiro hit the upright, Blewitt went left and Fry went right.

"They were 0-for-3 out there," Nagy said. "0-for-3 today, no good." And then he lit his visor on fire while he was still wearing it and ran screaming into the woods.

Blewitt was waived Wednesday morning.

Now it's time to get creative to solve this headwind that bedevils a team with genuine Super Bowl aspirations. They have the technology and resources to think outside the box.

The recently installed virtual reality system at the Bears' facility is designed to help quarterbacks see plays at real speed, simulating the throwing windows of specific defensive schemes. There's no reason VR can't be repurposed, however, allowing kickers to practice while fending off ninja attacks, gently navigating a lunar landing or battling Koopa Troopas while trying to get to 8th-world Bowser.

Or if the Bears really want pressure, they can do a kicking derby at Soldier Field on some Friday night this summer. Really cheap beer and food, raucous cheering and booing encouraged, loud music blaring and news helicopters above told to sweep the field with floodlights. All ticket revenues going to Bears Charities. If you think they wouldn't attract a crowd, you don't know this town.

It wouldn't be any stranger than the truth.

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