Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy is leading the charge to rally around bewildered kicker Cody Parkey after his woeful showing against the Detroit Lions on Sunday:
Matt Nagy said the Bears will not consider replacing Cody Parkey: “There’s zero chance of that.”
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) November 11, 2018
And he’s not alone:
A stud defender who played his college ball at Alabama sticking up for a teammate who played at rival Auburn isn’t something you see every day, folks. This is a day that will go down in the history books!
It’s OK if the Bears are publicly backing their kicker. No, really. It worked for the Packers when Head Coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers were there for Mason Crosby in his moment of need earlier in the year (coincidentally enough, it was against the Lions). Since then, the veteran kicker has bounced back in a big way.
And yet, I see no reason GM Ryan Pace couldn’t chose to do some additional due diligence in the kicking department. After all, the last thing the Bears want is for this dream season to be derailed by a kicker. Unfortunately, the names on the market are mostly uninspiring, hence their availability at this point in the year. Indeed, the fact that the group includes some ex-Bears tells me there probably isn’t a better option than Parkey at this time.
But just for fun …
Cairo Santos (whose Bears career was over before you could blink twice) signed with the Jets in March, but was released in August. He would later sign with the Rams while Greg Zuerlein recovered from a groin injury, making a game-winning 39-yard field goal to beat the Seahawks. But once Zuerlein was cleared, Santos was out the door. Roberto Aguayo looked to have a leg up on the Chargers job before losing the preseason battle to Caleb Sturgis, who lost the job a week ago after he missed a field goal and two extra points against the Seahawks.
Blair Walsh (who has high-profile misses on his résumé), Nick Novak (whose 69.2% success rate in 2017 wasn’t nice enough for the Chargers to keep him around), and Patrick Murray (whose injury in Cleveland opened the door for Parkey) stand out among the kickers with significant pro experience. As does Kai Forbath, but he was released by the Vikings when he lost his job to rookie Daniel Carlson. You might remember Carlson as the kicker whose whiffs against the Packers were low-lights in a Week 2 tie. If anything, maybe the Bears should bring in Forbath to see if he’ll spill any tea regarding his ex-teammates. Can’t hurt, could help!
Zane Gonzalez has prospect pedigree as an All-American college kicker at Arizona State, but his time with the Browns was cut short this season after he missed three of his five field goal attempts and missed two extra points.
It would’ve been easy to knock Parkey after Sunday’s win, but it says more about where the Bears are as a team (and who they are as a group) that they’re fighting for each other rather than going the opposite way. Bears fans have seen what it looks like when a team isn’t pulling from the same side of the rope (remember when Brandon Marshall directed a rant at Robbie Gould after a loss in 2014?) and how quickly things can go sideways when something goes a little off the rails. But since I don’t want to think about the Marc Trestman era any more than I have to, I’ll stop digressing.
For now, the Bears appear to have full confidence in Parkey … even after the clangs of the four goal posts he hit on missed kicks still resonated around Chicago.
Parkey was an immediate contributor to the NFC East winning Eagles in 2014, making 88.9 percent of his kicks as a rookie and earning an invitation to the Pro Bowl. Two years later, a healthy Parkey signed with the Browns, linked up with Special Teams Coach Chris Tabor (who now serves in that capacity with the Bears), and made 80 percent of his field goals. Parkey followed that by connecting on 91.3 percent of his kicks with the Dolphins in 2017. So in the two years before he joined the Bears, Parkey had made 85.4 percent of his field goals and 92 percent of his extra points. Those aren’t numbers you would associate with a bad kicker. It’s just that Sunday, well, Parkey looked like a bad kicker.
And that he missed an early kick against the Cardinals in Week 3, misfired on the potential overtime game-winner against the Dolphins in Week 6, and couldn’t deliver on an opening-drive kick in Week 8 against the Jets has Bears fans souring on him quite quickly. And I get it, no one likes to see the kicker miss. But there simply might not be many better options available to the Bears right now (especially with Parkey’s pedigree and upside). That’s the reality.
But, yes, it’s maddening that Parkey isn’t kicking to his career norms. I find myself struggling to figure out where that guy is and why he hasn’t arrived in Chicago yet. The Bears could still choose to bring some free agents off the street, but it looks like they’ll ride or die with Parkey for the time being.
Maybe a public show of support from his coaches and teammates is just what he needs to get back on the right track.