A week before Robbie Gould missed a pair of field goals — including what would’ve been a game-winner — the Bears swapped snappers, waiving Thomas Gafford and signing Patrick Scales.
Bears special teams coach Jeff Rodgers admitted changing one-third of a field goal battery can throw off the timing of the operation, but said he didn’t think the switch had anything to do with those two debilitating misses that helped send the Bears to an overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
“There’s always an adjustment,” Rodgers said. “That whole process is, from the snap to the hold to the kick, along with the protection — there’s a lot of elements that go into being successful or unsuccessful. I don’t believe that had a lot to do with it in terms of those two particular kicks, nor do I think that having a new snapper contributed to the ones that he made in the game.
“I just think it was an unfortunate deal that happened at a critical time, but we have total confidence in Robbie to come back and have a good last quarter of the season.”
Gould didn’t do any finger-pointing after Sunday’s game and continued to take full responsibility for his misses on Wednesday, saying the holding and snapping hasn’t been a problem all year.
For whatever reason, though, the Bears decided to part ways with Gafford and bring in Scales, who turned pro in 2011 but didn’t make his NFL debut until December 2014 with the Baltimore Ravens. He bounced between the Ravens, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Ravens again before signing with the Bears Nov. 28, so he’s familiar with the learning curve that comes with working with a new kicking battery.
“It takes a while,” Scales said. “It just takes a lot of reps. You gotta get comfortable with one another, there’s no set amount of reps or anything like that. The more you do it, the more comfortable you are.
“They know that it’s going to take some adjustment. They gotta get used to my snap speed, I gotta get used to their cadence, so the timing initially’s going to be off, but as the days go on, the perfect aspect is expected.”
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Scales said working with Gould and holder Pat O’Donnell has been a smooth transition, with Gould not leaving any gray area in what he wants from a snapper. Scales added that he thought the work he had with Gould and O’Donnell in practice rolled over well to Sunday’s game.
So Gould’s two costly misses come down to his own mistakes, though he remained confident that his issues on Sunday won’t affect him going forward.
“Look at my track record,” Gould said. “I started out the season on a pretty good streak, got to the bye week and probably haven’t been as strong as I had been in the beginning of the season. And I look forward to starting a new streak. That’s usually what I do in these situations. The guys, blocking, holding, snapping have done a great job all year, really it’s just me stepping up to the plate and getting it done.”