All of a sudden, the thought of Cody Parkey entering the game to attempt an important kick doesn’t leave us with the confidence we thought we had at the beginning of the season. And that shakiness is causing angst throughout the legions of Chicago Bears fans.
Parkey is 11 of 14 on field goals this year, which comes out to a disappointing 78.6 percent. Things started out well enough for Parkey, who made 9 of 10 in his first four games, but a recent slump has been highlighted by a pair of high-profile misses that has Bears fans on edge.
Ultimately, it’s not the beginning Parkey or the team envisioned when he signed a free agent contract that included $9 million in guarantees last winter. And if the Bears are going to continue to be successful, the kicking game has to begin carrying its weight.
We viewed Chicago’s investment in Parkey as a sign that the Bears were turning into a competitive football team, because rebuilding squads don’t often sink a major financial commitment into the kicking game.
And in all fairness, coming into the season, the idea of entrusting the kicking game to Parkey wasn’t really a bad one. From 2014-17, Parkey connected on 86.4 percent of his field goal attempts. His best season might have come in Miami, when he made 21 of 23 attempts (91.3%) for the Dolphins. But before that, he was a Pro Bowler as a rookie for the Eagles in 2014 and kicked successfully under Chris Tabor when he was the Cleveland Browns’ Special Teams Coach. It made sense for Parkey to be the guy who ended the Bears’ misery in the kicking game. Unfortunately, that’s not how it has played out thus far.
It’s a small sample of games for Parkey in a Bears uniform, but at least he’s shown an ability to bounce back from his early season misses. Parkey misfired on his first attempt against the Cardinals in Week 3, but nailed his next three attempts – including the game winner. And after not connecting on what would have been a game-winner against the Dolphins in Week 6, Parkey made the next attempt that came his way a week later against the Patriots. So while that miss against the Jets on the opening drive was disheartening, it’s a little encouraging that Parkey came back and made a 32-yard attempt to open up the fourth quarter scoring.
That said, the criticism of Parkey this year has been warranted. Nodbody’s perfect, but missing this many kicks isn’t good either. And I understand the lack of faith in GM Ryan Pace to clean up the kicking mess that came about when the team parted ways with Robbie Gould back in 2016. But Parkey has kicked successfully for winning teams in the past (he was a part of the 2014 Eagles who won the NFC East) and in less-than-inspiring conditions (please don’t make me look at the 2016 Browns’ Pro-Football-Reference page ever again).
The good news is that there’s nowhere to go but up for Parkey. And the better news is that he has a track record of being a successful NFL kicker and bouncing back from mistakes. Progression to the mean should be coming for Parkey, which means a correction to his stats could be coming based on a more significant sample of kicks – a sample that shows he is more good than bad.