Bears’ trust in Cody Parkey is ‘not shot’ after brutal four-doink day

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Bears’ trust in Cody Parkey is ‘not shot’ after brutal four-doink day

The Bears are not considering a change at kicker, coach Matt Nagy said, after Cody Parkey boinked four missed kicks off the uprights at Soldier Field in Sunday’s 34-22 win over the Detroit Lions. 

Parkey was clearly frustrated with himself after a historically bad game, with two of those misses coming on PATs and the others coming on field goal attempts of 41 and 34 yards. 

“It’s one of those things, obviously, it’s comical,” Parkey said. “I hit the post four times. I mean, that’s gotta be a stat, right? That’s gotta be impressive. But anyway, I let my team down today, I let myself down today and I just gotta keep swinging.”

The Bears signed Parkey to a four-year, $15 million contract with $9 million guaranteed in March, hoping the 25-year-old could be the solution to the placekicking woes that’ve followed this franchise since cutting ties with Robbie Gould after the 2015 season. That guaranteed money figure is tied for the third-highest among kickers, only behind New England’s Stephen Gostkowski ($10.1 million) and Baltimore’s Justin Tucker ($10.8 million). 

A large reason why the Bears won’t entertain replacing Parkey is his contract. The Bears would lose $3.5 million in cap space if they were to cut him now, and releasing him after the season wouldn’t result in any cap savings, either, according to Spotrac. He’s all but locked in to be the Bears’ kicker for the next two years unless things get so bad that the Bears absolutely have to release him. 

But that hasn’t happened yet, and it would take a lot more than one horrendous game and a missed kick here or there — including what would’ve been a long game-winner against the Miami Dolphins — for the Bears to get to that point. Nagy, though, admitted that Parkey’s issues affected him as a playcaller on Sunday, to the point where the Bears ran a two-point conversion attempt after their final touchdown instead of having Parkey kick a PAT. 

“In my head, there's a balance of showing trust to him by putting him back out there, but then there's also a level of understanding what's best for the team,” Nagy said. “Sometimes you just have those days. So my trust is not shot at all with him. I know everybody else is going to feel that way and I get it and that's okay. But where we're at right now, we just keep going and like I said, he's going to hit some big kicks for us just like he did last week to keep himself going.”

The worry for the Bears is what happens if they need Parkey to connect on a critical kick in a close game later in the season. Ryan Pace signed him to that deal to be the guy who can hit those kicks that can determine if a team makes the playoffs or not. It won’t be every week where the Bears’ offense and defense plays well enough for a string of missed kicks to be a non-factor. 

Parkey’s teammates, though, had his back after Sunday’s game. 

“We have all the faith in the world in him,” tight end Trey Burton said. “I’ve seen him make unbelievable kicks. I wouldn’t want to kick in these conditions. We’re all behind him. No one’s pointing fingers at him, no one’s against him. We’re all trying to see what we can to do help him.”

“The criticism outside that I got this past week, have gotten all season long, my teammates have my back and it's the same way with Cody, we're going to have his back,” quarterback Mitch Trubisky said. “We see him boot the crap out of the ball in practice so everyone has a bad game every once in a while so we're going to rally around him, continue to have his back and I know next week when we need it he's going to make a big kick and we're not even going to think twice about it, we're a family in that locker room, we have each other's back no matter what.”

For Parkey, all he can do is move on from a frustrating, embarrassing game and trust that it won’t happen again. He trusts himself, his teammates trust him, his coaches trust him. But until he proves he can make kicks at Soldier Field, or in big situations, it’ll be hard for fans to trust him. That’s why one of the louder cheers of the game came when it was announced to the crowd at Soldier Field that the Bears were going for a two-point conversion and not having Parkey kick a PAT. 

“Yeah, I feel bad for myself but my teammates all cheer me up,” Parkey said. “We won the game, so that’s always nice, but at the end of the day it’s honestly not too hard knowing the work I’ve put in leading up to this point, and this is my fifth year in the NFL, I know what I’m capable of doing and I’m going to keep doing it.” 

Under Center Podcast: Shedding light on the Bears new DC from the golf course


Under Center Podcast: Shedding light on the Bears new DC from the golf course

Former Bears head coach Dave Wannstedt joins Luke Stuckmeyer and Bears insider JJ Stankevitz from the golf course in sunny Florida to shed light on his recent conversation with new Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano (1:30), Ed Reed's Hall of Fame belief in Eddie Jackson (3:00), whether he'd prioritize Bryce Callahan or Adrian Amos in Free Agency (6:15).

Plus how he'd handle the Cody Parkey situation, since he had a similar experience with Jim Harbaugh when he was coaching the Bears (9:30).

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Under Center Podcast


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Bears grades and needs: D-line looks set, from Akiem Hicks to Bilal Nichols

Bears grades and needs: D-line looks set, from Akiem Hicks to Bilal Nichols

2018 depth chart

1. Akiem Hicks
Usage: 16 games, 74.1 percent of defensive snaps
2019 status: $10.1 million cap hit

Hicks is one of the very best interior defensive linemen in the NFL, leading all players at his position with 34 run stops (defined by Pro Football Focus as tackles that constitute a loss for the offense) while contributing eight sacks and 53 pressures. He finally earned the Pro Bowl bid he’s deserved for years and will remain an anchor of the Bears’ defense as it transitions from Vic Fangio to Chuck Pagano. That he played nearly three-quarters of the Bears' defensive snaps, too, is a testmant to A) how tough is was to take him off the field and B) how well he conditioned himself to be able to play that much. 

2. Eddie Goldman
Usage: 16 games, 52.5 percent of defensive snaps
2019 status: $7.55 million cap hit

With so much star power highlight reel appearances surrounding him, Goldman perhaps was under-appreciated outside the walls of Halas Hall. But inside the Bears’ facility, Goldman’s impact was celebrated. His ability to absorb interior double teams allowed inside linebackers Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith to shoot gaps and each rack up over 100 tackles, and coupled with Hicks few teams were able to effectively run the ball on the Bears. 

While Goldman indeed only played a little over half of the Bears’ defensive snaps, that was possible because of good depth behind him. Defensive line coach Jay Rodgers — the lone position coach holdover from Fangio’s staff — crafted a plan that allowed Goldman to stay healthy, fresh and effective all season. With Pagano keeping the Bears’ 3-4 base scheme, Goldman will still have a highly important role a year after signing a four-year, $42.04 million contract with $25 million guaranteed. 

3. Roy Robertson-Harris
Usage: 16 games, 33.6 percent of defensive snaps, 27.1 percent of special teams snaps
2019 status: Exclusive rights free agent

Robertson-Harris’ 28 pressures tied for fourth on the team behind the three guys you’d expect to be ahead of him (Khalil Mack, Hicks, Leonard Floyd). He was a disruptive presence able to play just about every defensive line technique, and he used his 6-foot-7 length to bat down two passes, too. 

Robertson-Harris will turn 26 in late July and could still have some untapped potential as a defensive lineman, a position he switched to only a few years ago. 

4. Bilal Nichols
Usage: 14 games, 31.2 percent of defensive snaps, 5.2 percent of special teams snaps
2019 status: $644,870 cap hit

Nichols came up with one of the biggest plays in the early part of the Bears’ season when he dropped Cardinals running back for a three-yard loss on third-and-two just after the two-minute warning, with Arizona driving in Bears territory. From there, Nichols was good for a few plays per game, immediately fitting in as an adept rotational player a few months removed from being a fifth-round pick.

Nichols tied with Robertson-Harris for fifth on the team with four sacks, and in Week 17 he thoroughly terrorized Minnesota’s offensive line: Four hurries, two hits and one sack (after the sack, he mimicked the “Viking Clap” to a largely empty U.S. Bank Stadium). Ryan Pace appears to have unearthed a solid contributor in Nichols, someone who will be a key part of the team’s defensive line rotation again in 2019. 

5. Jonathan Bullard
Usage: 16 games, 28.3 percent of defensive snaps, 15.1 percent of special teams snaps
2019 status: $1,026,630 cap hit

Bullard hasn’t quite capitalized on the potential that led Pace to draft him in the third round back in 2016, and was passed on the depth chart by Robertson-Harris and Nichols last season. He’s adequate against the run and his cap hit is low enough for him to stick on the roster in 2019. 

6. Nick Williams 
Usage: 2 games, 4.2 percent of defensive snaps
2019 status: Unrestricted free agent

Williams won a camp battle to secure a roster spot, but only appeared in two games (Week 1 and Week 9). 

7. Abdullah Anderson
Usage: Practice squad
2019 status: Reserve/future contract

The Bucknell alum and 2017 Patriot League defensive player of the year hung around the practice squad in 2018, and will get a shot at sticking in that role in 2019. 

Level of need (1-11, with 11 being the highest): 3

Between Hicks, Goldman, Robertson-Harris and Nichols, the Bears have four strong contributors to their defensive line rotation. Add Bullard in there and the “need” lessens, though defensive line is one of those positions where you can never have too many bodies. 

Previous grades and needs: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | OL

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