End of an era: Bears cut kicker Robbie Gould

End of an era: Bears cut kicker Robbie Gould

He was the last link to the last Bears Super Bowl team and one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history. But in the NFL, the land of what-have-you-done-for-me-lately, none of that mattered late Sunday when the Bears cut kicker Robbie Gould, less than a full offseason after Gould had set the franchise mark for points scored, field goals made and field goals made from 50 yards or longer.

That the Bears did not release Gould among the first roster cutdown to 53 on Saturday was perhaps curious. One scenario is that Gould was asked to take a cut from his scheduled $3 million base salary, refused and the Bears then made the move. If Gould was on the roster for game one, his entire 2016 salary would have become guaranteed.

Indeed, in hindsight it now seems curious that the Bears went to training camp with no competition or understudy for Gould, who was coming off two of his weaker NFL seasons after ranking among the top kickers in NFL history going into the 2015 season. GM Ryan Pace spoke of competition at virtually every position, yet the Bears brought in no camp kicker, something they would have done were they seriously concerned about their placekicker.

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Gould’s 2015 regular season also included devastating misses from 40 and 36 yards in a Dec. 6 overtime home loss to San Francisco and a miss from 50 yards with a chance to tie Washington in regulation the following week.

His fortunes may have hit bottom in Thursday’s win at Cleveland in which Gould missed one extra-point attempt and had a second one blocked. He converted all three of his field goals in the game and was 5-for-6 for the preseason. But throughout this offseason and training camp, his accuracy was inconsistent, something not easily dismissed as meaningless after two stretches last season in which he missed three straight field goals.

The second of those comprised the San Francisco-Washington difficulties. The first also involved not just a miss, but also a costly miss, as Gould was wide-left from 51 yards in a game won by the Minnesota Vikings with a field goal as time expired in regulation.

Gould was one of the Bears mainstays ever since he won his job in a kicking competition early in the 2005 season when then-kicker Doug Brien was struggling and down with a back strain.

Gould entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State, going initially in 2005 to the New England Patriots who still had Super Bowl hero Adam Vinatieri. He was cut by the Patriots, then by the Baltimore Ravens as well before winning that Bears kicking competition in October 2005 to replace Brien. Gould was working construction at the time the Bears called and he did not waste the third NFL chance.

“The Bears gave me my first [real] opportunity,” Gould said later, after signing a four-year deal worth $15 million, with $9 million guaranteed, in late 2013. “There was a lot that went into getting here before that happens, being cut twice to figuring out, ‘You’re only supposed to be here for a few weeks and kick extra points, to becoming a Pro Bowl’er [in 2006] to playing in a Super Bowl to becoming the highest-paid kicker in the history of the National Football League, to the third-highest [percentage] field goal kicker.”

Gould’s accomplishments become all the more remarkable because of his kicking his entire home-game career not only outdoors, but also in one of the NFL’s legendarily difficult kicking venues, Soldier Field.

Fittingly, Gould converted the last seven of his final Bears kicks, including ones of 49, 50 and 51 yards – all outdoors.

The Bears have the top-ranked defense in Madden 20, plus other takeaways from today's ratings reveal

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The Bears have the top-ranked defense in Madden 20, plus other takeaways from today's ratings reveal

A boatload of Madden ratings dropped on Monday, and with it, more content than you could shake a stick at. 

The Bears, predictably, got a fair bit of love on the defensive side of the ball and were largely ignored on offense. 

No Fangio, No Problem

For a wide variety of reasons, it's trendy to point out that the Bears' defense is headed for some regression this season. Madden disagrees, though, rating the Bears defense (88) as the best in football. They did also give the Houston Texans' defense an 88 as well, but never let the details get in the way of a good story. Here's what they said: 

For Chicago, the unit is fronted by 99 Club member, LOLB Khalil Mack. FS Eddie Jackson (91 OVR) is a Superstar X-Factor like his teammate, Mack. That’s a scary combination for any opposing quarterback. Toss in CB Kyle Fuller (89 OVR) and you can see why this Bears unit should roar out of the gate in Madden 20. 

Year 2 Mitch Doesn't Get Any Love 

Trubisky was rated as the 24th best QB, which is already being debated passionately, regardless of how debatable it actually is. What's lowkey worse is that Chase Daniel, the 9-year NFL vet, got the same rating as Dax Raymond, the undrafted free agent. 

May We Remind You That Khalil Mack Is A Terrific Football Player 

Earlier in the month, Mack was revealed as one of the 4 players who received the infamous 99 rating. That means he's also the top-ranked LOLB, two points ahead of Denver's Von Miller and 16 points ahead of any NFC North LOLB. Enjoy those draft picks, Oakland! 

Akiem Hicks Gets Snubbed And Frankly We've Just About Had It 

Hicks was ranked as the 19th-best defensive lineman, which is just objectively untrue. In some alternate universe, there may be 18 better defensive linemen than Akiem Hicks, but that is just simply inaccurate in this one. He was heated about his rating, and we cannot blame him. 

The Lowest Ranked Bears Player Was ... 

Patrick Scales. Sorry Patrick Scales.

Akiem Hicks not happy with Madden 20 ratings: ‘Tell them to come see me’

Akiem Hicks not happy with Madden 20 ratings: ‘Tell them to come see me’

EA Sports released the full Madden 20 player ratings for every team in the NFL, and not everyone was happy with the numbers they received.

The Bears shared a video of backup quarterback Chase Daniel revealing ratings to his teammates, and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks seemed the most upset of the group.

“Bring some of the scouts out here doing the madden ratings,” Hicks said. “Tell them to come see me.”

Hicks received an overall rating of 87, tied for fourth-highest on the team and 10th-highest among defensive ends.

He has the same rating as Green Bay Packers DE Mike Daniels and Detroit Lions DE Trey Flowers.

In the video, running back Tarik Cohen was disappointed with his 92 speed, which is tied for third-fastest on the team behind wide receivers Taylor Gabriel and Emanuel Hall.

Cohen does lead the Bears with 97 agility and 92 elusiveness, but he thought his throwing power stat should be higher than 51 after his two career passing touchdowns.