The Chicago Bears Super Bowl hopes were put on ice for the time being thanks to the singular efforts of their kicker Cody Parkey. A man they guaranteed $9 million in the offseason not only missed 10 kicked during the regular season, but of course saved his 11th for when it mattered most to send them to the next round.
Is a 43-yard field goal a chip shot? No. Should he have made it? Yes. There was no wind that could be called a factor. The snap and hold were perfect. He even kicked the damn thing through on the previous attempt before Philadelphia called timeout. Then on the next one, it comes out low, already inching left, gets tipped and bangs off the goal post.
There is no way to know if the Bears will make a change at that position this offseason. They should if for no other reason than accountability. Missing 11 kicks at that price is not worth it. However, there may be another reason. History says that whenever the Bears have gotten good, their deep playoff runs follow after they’ve made a change at kicker.
Fans in Chicago took a swing at making the same 43-yard field goal Cody Parkey missed.
— ESPN (@espn) January 13, 2019
1985: Drafted Kevin Butler in the 4th round
The Bears made it to the NFC championship in 1984. There was plenty to feel good about. Their kicker was not one of them. Bob Thomas had an on-again-off-again relationship with them during his career. It seems their patience finally ran out after that playoff run. Not only did he miss an extra point against Washington (back when they were gimmes) but he also missed a field goal in San Francisco that would’ve prevented them from being shut out.
The team cut ties with him that year and used their 4th round pick in the subsequent draft to secure Georgia kicker Kevin Butler. Known affectionately these days as “Butthead,” he immediately improved the percentage of made kicks from 78 to 83 in 1985 and after a rough playoff opener against the Giants where he missed three field goals, he went a perfect 4-for-4 the rest of the way. He would remain the starter until 1996.
2005: Signed Robbie Gould
Paul Edinger had a good start to his career with the Bears, but by 2003 and 2004 he had sunk to ugly levels. His final year with the team he connected on just 15 of his 24 field goal attempts. Many also hadn’t forgiven him for what happened in 2003 when he missed three of four field goals against the Lions and Rams. Games they lost 12-10 and 23-21 respectively. If those two games had been wins, the Bears would’ve finished 9-7 and might’ve made the playoffs.
So in 2005, the team made a change. Their initial choice was Doug Brien, but he was injured in October of that season. They made a call to former Penn State standout Robbie Gould who’d spent time with the Patriots and Ravens during training camp and preseason. He made a strong impression with a 77% accuracy rate including a game-winner over the Saints that push the team towards the playoffs.
A year later he was booting them into the NFC championship against Seattle.