By Bryan Dietzler
The name Robbie Gould brings a painful feeling to Bears fans especially over the past couple of weeks. Gould has had a rocky go of it over the past two games and has really struggled at times during the season to get his kicks right and in order. His latest troubles started in the Bear’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. He missed a field goal that, had it been made, would have eventually given the Bears the win. That was fine because he would get another chance as the game ended, to kick a field goal to win the game for his team. However, he didn’t make the field goal and the game went into overtime where the Bears lost.
Flash forward to the next week against the Redskins. Gould didn’t have a chance to kick a field goal all game until the final couple of minutes where he was put in position to kick a 50-yard field goal to tie the game up and possibly send it into overtime. The kick was coming at Soldier Field, a place that Gould had kicked successfully many times over and he had made 50-yard field goals consistently so it was well within his range. The kick sailed wide, however, and the Bears ended up losing the game.
So what is happening with Gould, a normally accurate kicker who has made critical field goals repeatedly for the Bears? Is his accuracy off? Is he having something happening to him mentally that is causing him to miss these kicks? Are his mechanics off? Is the fact that the Bears brought in a new long snapper causing him problems?
Ironically, these issues with Gould missing field goals didn’t just start with the introduction of a new long snapper. He had these problems earlier when the previous long snapper was on the team and he missed a few kicks. Granted changing long snappers may have an effect on a kicker but you would have thought that the Bears would have practiced extensively with the new long snapper before the games took place to get the timing and the rhythm down. They most assuredly did that so it’s probably not an excuse for Gould missing the field goals.
The next question is whether or not there is something mentally going on with Gould. Everyone has their problems and there are those that have things going on at home or behind the scenes that have an effect on a player. The kicking position is one that, although it isn’t used that much, is very mental and a kicker with a problem mentally can suffer through spells where they don’t make kicks or struggle with accuracy. Perhaps Gould is going through one of these spells right now.
Gould has said in interviews after the 49ers game that his mechanics were off a little bit on the kicks he missed and that he rushed the kicks which might have contributed to them being missed. If he did indeed rush the kicks then perhaps that’s our explanation for why he missed the kicks in the 49ers game. His explanation for missing the kick in the Redskins game was a little less clear. He simply stated that it was a kick that he had to make and didn’t give any reason as to why he missed the kick. So now Gould doesn’t really know why he missed the kick, he just missed it and there is no explanation for it.
A kicker has one job on the team and that is to kick the ball. They kick it off, they kick extra points and they kick field goals. They don’t do much else than that. Gould was called upon to make an important kick at a critical time in the game for the second week in a row and for the second week in a row, he couldn’t come through. Sure the Bears could have done better on both offense and defense to not have to put Gould in that position (and several of the players interviewed after the Redskins game state that they could have done a better job so as to not have the kicker be forced to make a kick at the end of regulation) but it’s Gould’s job to kick field goals, score points and win games for the Bears. He is not doing his job.
The next three weeks will be an important indicator of what the Bears will do with Gould this offseason. If he makes kicks when the opportunity presents itself then he should be fine and ready to go for the 2016 season. If he continues on the downward spiral that he appears to be on Chicago might be in the market for a new kicker this offseason.
Keep a close eye on Gould these next few games to see how he does. Hopefully, for his sake and the Bears, he can climb out of the rut that he is in and get back to being the person that they have relied on so many times in the past to come through and win games. If he can regain his form and get back to the way that he used to be then the Bears will be better and he will lock up a spot on the roster for next season. If his struggles continue and he fails to do a good job these last few weeks, it may be the end of his long tenure in Chicago.