The Chicago Bears head into their NFC Wild Card matchup clicking on almost all cylinders. But they can’t afford to tinker with their most glaring weakness.
The Chicago Bears are one of the most well-rounded teams in the NFL. In fact, one could certainly argue that they are indeed the most well-rounded team in the league.
However, there’s no such thing as a perfect team, and that’s certainly true of the 2018 Bears. Despite being one of the most prolific offenses and terrifying defenses, the Bears’ kicking game has been almost unbearable to watch.
More specifically, to say that placekicker Cody Parkey has struggled throughout much of the season is an enormous understatement.
Earlier in the season, Parkey missed what would have been a game-winning 53-yard field goal against the Miami Dolphins. He also incredulously managed to knock four extra points off of the uprights in the team’s win over the Detroit Lions in Week 10.
Seriously. It’s amazing that the uprights didn’t press assault charges on Parkey.
Just last week, Parkey missed an extra point indoors, in the team’s regular-season finale against the Minnesota Vikings. Fortunately, it was a non-factor as the Bears defeated the Vikes by two touchdowns.
Despite Parkey’s struggles, the Bears will not be addressing their biggest weakness before the playoffs begin this weekend. Head coach Matt Nagy and special teams coach Chris Tabor reaffirmed the team’s commitment to Parkey while addressing the media prior to the team’s NFC Wild Card matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.
As frustrating as that may be for Bears fans to hear, it’s the only decision that the Bears have had virtually all season.
The Bears haven’t been in a spot to stray from Parkey in 2018. A large part of that is the 26-year-old’s contract. Parkey signed a 4-year, $15 million deal ($9 million guaranteed) prior to the 2018 season. Only two other kickers in the league (Justin Tucker and Stephen Gostkowski) have a higher average guaranteed value every year. Benching someone so valuable is often unheard of.
Not only does the money make it tough to make any changes at kicker, but the regular conditions at Soldier Field can make it difficult for even the most talented of kickers. Former Bears kicker Robbie Gould has gone on the record to stress how poor the turf conditions are in Chicago. And despite switching turf providers, the field will certainly not be in the best shape after nearly five months of football at Soldier Field.
And let’s not forget about the atmospheric conditions. Bears fans are no stranger to the often frigid and windy conditions often created at home. Even given Parkey’s struggles throughout 2018, it would be an even bigger risk to bring on a kicker who was unfamiliar with the conditions in Chicago.
It’s a given that Bears fans will be holding their collective breath any time that Parkey steps onto the field on Sunday, but it just hasn’t been logical for the Bears to make any drastic changes at kicker this year. Although if Parkey struggles during the playoffs, the team may be forced to move on from Parkey.
Until then, the Bears will just have to hope that his small misses off the uprights get a little help from that Soldier Field wind on Sunday.