It might have been lost in your weekend shuffle, but the Chicago Bears signed a kicker, Redford Jones, on Friday afternoon. And with Cody Parkey still on the roster, the signing marks the start of a real kicking competition in Chicago (hopefully, with some more participants along the way).
We took a cursory glance at Jones’ résumé with the news of his signing on Friday, but there wasn’t much to inspire confidence as the long-term solution for the Bears. Jones made just 74.6 percent of his kicks during his career at Tulsa and his best season (80.8% success rate as a junior) wasn’t much to celebrate, either. Then again, past performance isn’t always an indicator of future results. So perhaps the best is yet to come for Jones. But before your eyes roll all the way to the back of your head, check this out.
Jones has been working with former NFL kicker John Carney, who happens to be the league’s fifth all-time leading scorer. Carney was successful on 82.4 percent of the 580 kicks he attempted in the NFL from 1988 until 2010 and that helped land him in the record books. His best work came while kicking with the New Orleans Saints, making 82.6 percent of his kicks in eight seasons (during two separate stints) – seems like the right teacher, eh?
Here’s a look at some of the work Jones has done under Carney:
In addition to the obvious work on mechanics and kicking field goals from distance (he nailed 40-yarders from both hashes, a 45-yard boot from the left hash, and a 50-yard kick from the right one), Jones showed off his leg strength, booting some balls through the end zone. Considering some of the Bears’ kick coverage issues in recent years, making opposing offenses start from their own 25-yard-line seems ideal.
It’s worth noting that Carney and Bears GM Ryan Pace crossed paths in New Orleans during two stints toward the end of Carney’s career. Pace worked in various roles with the Saints from 2002-06 and 2009-10 when Carney was wrapping up his time in the NFL. So perhaps Jones comes to Chicago on a recommendation from someone Pace might have had contact with prior to his stint running the show in Chicago. Sometimes, life can be more about who you know than anything else. Funny how that happens.
Working with a kicker who was a two-time Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in 1994 who had a 23-year career in the NFL comes with no guarantees for Jones, but aligning yourself with a pro’s pro who knows what it takes to make it in The Show and stick around for a lengthy and prosperous career is a good place to start.