More Thoughts on the Kicker Situation (With Assistance From You)

| July 19th, 2019

The best place kicker in movie history?

I. A Tweet from Data.

Data did a nice thread on Super Bowl kickers and this Tweet was the basic summation.

I agree with his basic conceit that the Bears don’t need a great kicker over the duration of the NFL season to have a great NFL season. But how many times do we need to see kickers make SIGNIFICANT kicks in the postseason to understand that this position makes and breaks postseason runs almost every season. I’m not questioning whether the Bears can win ten games with one of these kids kicking their field goals. They can. I’m questioning whether they can win a title. And that’s the goal now.

II. A Comment from the Comments

From “That Guy”:

Vinatieri was unknown. Gould was a nobody.

Kickers come out of nowhere. Often they go back to nowhere.

Absent signing a “proven” guy to an overpriced contract (ahem, Parkey), you’re gambling.

If kicker is the biggest problem we deal with all season, we’re winning the Super Bowl.

I’ll take these point-by-point because these are basically ALL the points.

(1) What does Vinatieri and Gould were unknown mean? Their rookie years for the Patriots and Bears were 1996 and 2005, respectively. The teams they started for in those seasons were coming off 6 and 5 win campaigns, respectively. Both teams had wonderful seasons but had almost zero expectations. You can gamble with young players at pivotal positions when your expectations are low.

(2) “Absent…you’re gambling” is something you write when your team just missed the boat on a kicker signing. There is a dramatic difference between signing a kicker to an expensive multi-year contract and hosting a camp battle between two men who’ve never attempted a field goal in the league. Wouldn’t bringing in Matt Bryant – who barely missed a kick last season – make some sense? You could still give one of the kids the job but at least have the veteran, reliable option.

(3) Kicker was the biggest problem the Bears had heading into January last year and the Bears missed a chip shot field goal to advance in the playoffs.

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2019 Chicago Bears Off-Season Agenda: Part One, Fixing the Biggest Problem

| February 6th, 2019

For every NFL franchise, each offseason begins with self-evaluation. That process is driven by one prevailing question: where can we improve our roster? The Bears have a very good roster; one of the better in the league. But their deficiencies in 2018, one in particular, kept them from advancing in the playoffs. They have a serious, specific need. And that need must be addressed in the coming months.

The Bears Need a Kicker.

Cody Parkey will be handed a pink slip as soon as it makes the most financial sense, leaving the Bears looking for a starter at the pivotal kicker position. (If you don’t think kicker is pivotal you missed this postseason.) Three points of note:

(1) Redford Jones was chum for the sharks. This is not to say the Tulsa product can’t kick his way onto the 2019 roster but that is not the current expectation inside the Halls of Halas. The 24 year-old product of Steve and Kristi Jones (Wikipedia is so funny) has one significant advantage: for most of January, all of February and half of March he’s going to be the only kicker on the Bears roster with a chance to play football for the team in September.

Helpful advice for Jones: go to Soldier Field and kick. Even if you have to steal the key from someone on the custodial staff.

(2) Free agents cost money and good free agents cost almost exclusively too much money. If the Bears want to bid for Stephen Gostkowski, they’ll end up making the same mistake every team makes when they acquire a Belichick castoff. The answer in free agency – IF there is an answer in free agency – is Robbie Gould. From a Patrick Finley piece in the Sun-Times:

“Obviously I still have an affinity for the city of Chicago,” Gould said while helping other Payton Award nominees build a playground at Warren Boys and Girls Club. “I really enjoy playing for San Francisco. They have exclusive rights to talk to me until free agency opens up. I think there’s a mutual understanding of wanting to go back there, but I’ve been through free agency before and you never know what’s going to happen.

“They’ve said they want to bring me back, obviously. At some point we have to negotiate a contract. . . . When the time’s right, they’ll do that and we’ll figure it out. If not, we’ll figure it out.”

If Gould does ends up as a free agent, he would find the Bears intriguing. His family still lives here and will continue to do so after he retires. If he signs a long-term contract, though, he plans on taking his family with him to that city.

“I’d like to be next to my family,” he said. “Those are things that will play a big part in free agency, for sure, if I ended up getting there.”

Clearly, Gould wants to return. But he can’t say that, of course. If the Niners don’t franchise him and free agency opens, the Bears have no choice. They must sign him. Because even if he misses every single kick he attempts in 2019, it’s a decision that will never be second-guessed.

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