Cody Parkey and the Chicago Bears' Kicking Woes

January 11, 2019
During the 2015 NFL season, Bears kicker Robbie Gould missed six field goals, which was the most since his rookie season. Right before the 2016 season, the Bears decided to move on from Gould and released him, but they have failed to find his replacement ever since. This season they signed journeyman Cody Parkey to fill the kicking role. Unfortunately, that hasn't worked out so well, as he struggled all year and ultimately missed the game-winning kick last weekend (officially the kick was blocked).
 

While the Bears continue to struggle in the kicking game, Gould has flourished even more so than he did in Chicago since leaving. From 2016 through 2018, Gould has made a ridiculous 96.6 percent of his 87 field goal attempts. He ranks first out of 33 kickers who have attempted at least 45 field goals since 2016. In comparison, Parkey has made only 81.7 percent during this time period, ranking 26th in the league.

 

 

 

Gould vs. Parkey since Gould left Chicago
  Since 2016 2018 Only  
  Pct  Rk Pct  Rk
Robbie Gould 96.6% 1 97.1% 1
Cody Parkey 81.7% 26 76.5% 29

 

A theory for the Bears’ kicking struggles is that it is difficult to kick in Chicago due to the windy weather. However, when broken down by how road kickers perform at each stadium, Soldier Field ranks third highest in field goal percentage since 2015 (2015 is the first year in SIS’s database). Road kickers have made 93.3 percent of field goals at Soldier Field, going 56 of 60. This includes one blocked kick and Gould going five for five for the 49ers in 2017.

 

Kickers at Soldier Field 2015-2018
  Made Att Pct Avg Dist
Road Kickers 56 60 93.3% 36.1
Gould 24 28 85.7% 39.2
Parkey 14 19 73.7% 37.4

 

*Note: Gould going 5/5 in 2017 is included in both his numbers and Road Kickers overall

 

Even though Gould had a down year his last year in Chicago, his numbers at Soldier Field have been respectable. Since 2015 he has made 85.7 percent of his field goals there, which ranks second for kickers with at least 10 attempts in Chicago (Mason Crosby ranks first making 10 of his 11 attempts). Parkey, on the other hand, has been well below average at Soldier Field. To add insult to injury, per Spotrac, the Bears paid Parkey nearly double what the 49ers paid Gould in 2018. So, overall it would seem the Bears made quite the mistake cutting Gould.

 
 

COMMENTS (15 Comments, most recent shown first)

MarisFan61
.....Perhaps in line with the idea that the holder is more important than the snapper:
(well for sure it's "in line" with it; question is, does it mean anything)

In the Rams-Saints NFC championship game, the Rams just won with a 57-yd FG in OT.

Announcer says "Bad snap."
Kicker made it.
Must have been a helluva hold.

BTW, the holder was Johnny Hekker, the punter, not renowned as a holder as far as I know but renowned for every athletic kind of thing a punter might ever do.
5:31 PM Jan 20th
 
George.Rising
Gould has the second-highest FG% in history, so releasing him was stupid.

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/leaders/fg_perc_career.htm
2:02 PM Jan 18th
 
MattD1
One thing worth noting is that his kicks that hit the uprights were not kicks he should have had trouble with. 3 were extra points, and the FGs were under 40, except the playoff one which was 43. If these were 50+ yard FGs he was hitting the uprights with, then you can say he was just having some bad luck, but that just wasn’t the case.
9:04 AM Jan 16th
 
MarisFan61
Did you make them use Lucy Van Pelt as the holder?

This is probably wrong, since nobody much talks about it, but it seems to me that the "hold" counts a lot, and that some must be better than others, and that it would have to make a significant difference.
I can only guess, though, that it must not.

It seems to me that the hold is harder than the snap. There's some room for error on the snap; it seems like there's almost none on the hold.
11:27 PM Jan 15th
 
smbakeresq
First off, it is difficult to kick in windy weather. However I would suspect that affects when to use the kicker more than accuracy; if they choose to send you out to kick it is more likely to be kick with a higher base accuracy. A check of average length of FG attempted might show this.

Second, I do think style of kicker makes a difference, i.e. how they plant the lead, what angle of attack, amount of lien, etc. I am from Baltimore, who has the best kicker in NFL history. However, Baltimore has always had a good kicker, and the special teams coaches have said on the local radio the type of kicker they look for to kick in Baltimore based on type of field and weather they have.

Third, I never understood why teams think they can just find a kicker or kicking coach. Baltimore has Tucker, but they also brought Will Lutz into the league, he is NO kicker. Matt Stover was in Baltimore, and he was accurate. Steve Hauschka was with Baltimore, learned to kick there but was let go, still kicking in league. Some teams just make it point to find good talent and coach it well. Others role the dice.

Fourth, with few exceptions, its dumb as a team to try to save money on a kicker to apply to something else. Kickers are not paid a lot of money in the scheme of things, but have outsized importance in your record.

Fifth, I used to win a lot of money in betting people they couldn't make an extra point. "Its not even home plate to the pitchers mound" I would tell them. Try it once, its a lot harder then you think.
11:38 AM Jan 15th
 
Mike137
bhalbleib wrote: "Football kicking would be a lot more interesting if you gave a kicker an extra point (so 4 for FGs and 2 for Xps) for hitting the upright."

That might be fun. But only if the kicker declares in advance which upright he is trying to hit. :)
9:35 PM Jan 14th
 
bhalbleib
Football kicking would be a lot more interesting if you gave a kicker an extra point (so 4 for FGs and 2 for Xps) for hitting the upright. Hitting it (if you are trying) is obviously a lot harder than not hitting it.
3:22 PM Jan 14th
 
MarisFan61
(In case there's any doubt, I didn't mean he wanted to cut it so close. :-)
I just meant you need to kick them better.)
11:13 PM Jan 13th
 
Mike137
mikeclaw wrote: "Cody Parkey hit the uprights six times this year. Six times. Including the playoff game, he was 26 of 34 on field goal attempts. By my reading, if the goalposts were two feet wider, he would have been 32 for 34."

Actually, 30/34. Two of the doinks were extra points. But you make a good point. The difference between 80% and 90% is only about three misses. Such a small number will always have a strong dependence on luck.

------
MarisFan61 wrote: "the answer to that is, he's supposed to not cut it so close in order to minimize the chance of suffering luck like that."

I am certain Parkey was not trying to see how close he could come to the upright. Every kicker makes most of his kicks, misses some, and has some that are close. Heck, yesterday Vinatieri missed both an extra point and a field goal from the old extra point distance. If any of Parkey's 6 doinks were from one yard closer, they'd have likely been good. Like with many things in sports, results are a combination of skill and luck. Parkey had a bad year, made worse by some bad luck.
1:15 PM Jan 13th
 
MarisFan61
Answering Mike: As I'm sure you know, the answer to that is, he's supposed to not cut it so close in order to minimize the chance of suffering luck like that.

BTW that was also my reaction whenever John McEnroe would complain about a bad call on one of his shots along the line.

And of course it was also a common complaint about Hillary and the election: It shouldn't have been close enough that that guy had anything like a 30% probability to win.....
10:42 AM Jan 13th
 
mikeclaw
I don't if this is relevant or if this is apropos of nothing, but ... Cody Parkey hit the uprights six times this year. Six times. Including the playoff game, he was 26 of 34 on field goal attempts. By my reading, if the goalposts were two feet wider, he would have been 32 for 34.

Of course, the answer is, the goalposts AREN'T two feet wider. And that's true. But it seems to me there is a certain randomness involved here - literally a couple of inches - and this could be the equivalent of a hitter or pitcher having a season of especially bad luck.
9:53 AM Jan 13th
 
WinShrs
I notice how some people are trying to absolve Parkey of blame for the double-doink by saying his kick was blocked. A kicker has to take some of the blame for getting his kick blocked.
9:50 AM Jan 13th
 
Mike137
RandomSports wrote: "Nobody wants to pay a kicker but that may change. Im sure the Bears and Seahawks are "kicking" themselves for not keeping Gould and Hauschka."

Are the Seahawks disappointed in Janikowski? I would think they are paying him well. The Bears certainly blew it with Gould, but the issue this year had nothing to do with not wanting to pay a kicker; they gave Parkey a very nice contract. Now many Bears fans want the team to do with Parkey what they did with Gould: dump him because of an off season.

Field goal percentage strikes me a a stat of little usefulness. It depends not just on the kicker, but on his teammates, length of attempts, weather, and luck.

Parkey was at least partly the victim of bad luck. He had six kicks hit the upright this year (including the playoff double doink); I'd guess that few kickers hit the uprights six time in a career.

By the way, Parkey's miss against the eagles was officially a blocked kick. An Eagles player got a finger on it. That could not have deflected the path very much, but given what happened, a few inches would have been enough.
8:36 AM Jan 12th
 
RandomSports
Kicking has seemed to be more interesting this season. Nobody wants to pay a kicker but that may change. Im sure the Bears and Seahawks are "kicking" themselves for not keeping Gould and Hauschka. They keep banging home kicks for two awful franchises who would be better off NOT winning games (hindsight).


Surprised more kickers don't get traded at the deadline in the NFL. It's somewhat like getting proven closer in baseball. If you are god awful 9 games in, should deal your kicker to a contender.
7:12 PM Jan 11th
 
MarisFan61
I've followed Gould (pronounced "Gold," BTW, for any lookers who might not know) :-) for his whole career because he's from Penn State and we here are Penn State fans because we've got a family member alum.
I hadn't followed the Bears this year but immediately thought of all this when Parkey missed that last field goal.

I thought you were going to go on to say/wonder/surmise more about it, like what was behind Parkey's misses and Gould's not-so-good 2015, maybe a "yips" thing, maybe something else; I would have thought that if something's an article here, it would have more than the simple and obvious observation. But yeah, it's interestingly ironic that the Bears let Gould go, then he's so unconsciously superb thereafter, and they lose a playoff game because they can't make a short-ish FG.
6:31 PM Jan 11th
 
 
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