Time was running out in the first half of the Bears’ preseason loss to the Panthers on Thursday night, and Chicago was in field goal range. Well, ostensibly. Bears coach Matt Nagy took one look at the spot of the ball after the half’s penultimate play, and immediately had sweaty-palmed flashbacks. Doink. Doink.
“You could feel it,” Nagy said. “You could sense it, from all the fans, and I looked over and I said — after the completion down the middle, and then they spotted it, and I’m so used to seeing — like my math is really good right now. I can figure out real quick how far a field goal kick is from the spot of the ball, so I realized it was 43. Am I right? Yeah.”
Seven long months ago, Cody Parkey hit the upright and then the crossbar on a tipped 43-yard attempt, sending the Bears home from the playoffs. Since then, Nagy has nursed a perhaps-unhealthy obsession with the double-doink. He has repeatedly forced the entire team to watch video of it. He has halted practice to have everyone watch the kickers attempt 43-yarders. He has hammered home the tragedy of the double-doink into the brains of his kickers, because everyone knows if there’s anything that’s good for a kicker’s mental health, it’s making them consciously think about their kicks, and about missing.
“It was a 43,” said Elliott Fry, who would be attempting last night’s particular 43. “Obviously that number has been ingrained into my memory.”
Not just the same distance, but the same stadium and direction as Parkey’s kick. And the same timeout to ice the kicker—this time, as a little favor from Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, a former Bears player. “I did that to help the Bears because they are in a kicking contest,” Rivera said.
Fry and Eddy Pineiro have spent camp alternating days as kicker as they battle for the starting role. (The unfortunately named Chris Blewitt was cut in June.) Given Nagy’s Ahabian fixation on the double-doink, I’d put any amount of money on Fry now winning the job.