I liked the progression of Pat O’Donnell as the season moved along and Deonte Thompson provided a much-needed spark in the return game in December. POD will return. Thompson should.
Rick Gosselin’s overall special teams rankings have Bears 12th in the league.
Which brings us to Robbie Gould.
Element One of the Gould Dilemma: The “Shot” Factor
No, I don’t think Robbie Gould is shot.
After his back-to-back nightmare efforts against San Francisco and Washington, Gould finished the season 5-for-5 on field goals, including a few kicks of 50+. Gould was not missing kicks physically (if that makes any sense). Gould was shanking balls ten yards left of the upright. He had what golfers refer to as “the yips”. As quickly as an athlete encounters this disease is as quickly as he can become disease free.
Element Two of the Gould Dilemma: The Kickoff Factor
Robbie and the Bears have been among the league’s worst touchback units for years. They ranked 27th in 2015. All four of the teams remaining in the postseason are ranked in the top ten. Why is the stat important? Because it’s HARD to consistently drive 80 yards for touchdowns! And that’s exactly what the good teams make opponents do.
And next season the Bears offense should be expected – if only based on health – to improve dramatically. You know what that means? Many, many more kickoffs. They can’t continue settling for those kickoffs landing at the five.
Element Three of the Gould Dilemma: Time for Competition
It is time for the Bears to open a serious competition for the starting kicker gig. Robbie will more than likely win it (and fans should root for that outcome) but he must be tested this summer.