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Bears coordinators share thoughts with media


Bears coordinators met the media Thursday at Halas Hall for the final time this season. Here are some of the most interesting tidbits from those sessions:

Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich on running back David Montgomery

As the Bears' first pick in the 2019 draft, Montgomery entered the season with high expectations. Helfrich has seen growth over the past few months.

"He's a competitive dude in every way," said Helfrich. "We were just in a walkthrough, and he's asking questions about picking up this blitz and this angle. Stuff matters to him in every aspect, and you can see the hesitation in Week, whatever, 2 or 3 or 4, is gone on this play, but maybe not on play X, Y and Z."

Montgomery has carried the ball 219 times for 776 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie, seeing increased usage as the season went along. He also has caught 25 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown, showing his potential to be the type of all-purpose back coach Matt Nagy prefers. 

"I think he's very diverse," said Helfrich. "You've seen him downfield catching things. You've seen him run some read routes, those types of things. He's a committed protector. Some guys, they'll participate as a protector but they don't have a willingness to do that. He does it and does it well. And takes pride in it. He's a complete guy that way." 

What, in Helfrich's opinion, will take Montgomery to the next level?

"Just reps," said Helfrich. "Reps and confidence and believing in himself and cutting it loose a little bit more."

Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano on linebacker Leonard Floyd

After starting the season with a two-sack performance against the Green Bay Packers, Floyd has only recorded one more sack over the last 14 games. Still, Pagano has liked what he's seen from the former first-round pick. 

"There's always going to be expectations with where you were picked and all this stuff," said Pagano, "but Leonard's played really good for us. He's been consistent. Does he have the sack numbers that we all wanted? No. Does Khalil (Mack) have 'em? No. The turnovers, we haven't produced in those areas the way we wanted to."

Pagano feels that Floyd's value has come through his consistent effort, which may not always come across on the stat sheet. 

"He's done a heck of a job," said Pagano. "He comes in here every single day and prepares and practices hard and plays hard every single down. The splash plays that we all love to see, we didn't see as many of them and he'd be the first one to tell you that. But down-in and down-out, he does a great job."

However, with the Bears seeing a rapid decline in sacks this season, going from 50 to 32, Pagano is clear that the team needs someone to step up and get to the quarterback.

"If they're going to put a couple, three guys on (Mack)," said Pagano, "then there's going to be singles somewhere else, and somebody else has got to win when they do that. You've got to take advantage of those opportunities."

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor on kicker Eddy Piñeiro

Though not a rookie, Piñeiro got his first NFL action this season, winning the kicking job in the preseason and having perhaps the steadiest season by a Chicago kicker since 2015. 

"He's grown immensely," said Tabor. "You go all the way back to OTAs, looking at some of that tape, to where the product is right now, just with regards to his routine, how he hits the ball, how he follows through, the trajectory. There are a lot of things that he's improved at." 

Piñeiro's performance is likely to buy him more time to tap into the potential that took him from junior college soccer player to NFL kicker in three short years.

"Because he is a young player, he can still grow," said Tabor, "and I see that in him. But I've been real pleased with where he's at. We've still got one more challenge. We've got to kick today, so we've got to win this process today and then tomorrow, and it puts us in position for Sunday." 

Piñeiro came into the job through the Bears' most-watched position battle. He won early plaudits for kicking a game-winning field goal against the Denver Broncos but struggled through a missed game-winner against the Los Angeles Chargers and two missed field goals against the Los Angeles Rams. Piñeiro enters Week 17 having connected on his last seven field-goal attempts.

Tabor sees promise in the way Piñeiro has handled the pressure.

"I think he's handled it great," said Tabor. "I think that sometimes I guess if you want to call it pressure, that's made somewhere else, and if you don't listen to the noise, you can stay focused. I think what he's done really well is stayed on his own task and has worried about himself." 

Tabor feels that the other veteran specialists have helped Piñeiro come along, including punter Pat O'Donnell, who Tabor calls "Paddy the caddy" due to his constant advice for Piñeiro.

"I think that (long snapper Patrick) Scales and Pat O'Donnell should get a lot of credit too," said Tabor, "because they've helped raise him also just with their veteran leadership. The group is really tight, and I'm proud of them."