Robbie Gould-K-2005:I’m so enamored with this player that looking back, maybe this should be higher. This was absolutely one of Jerry Angelo’s best finds.
Kickers are certainly important. When a team finds a great kicker, they can be critical to a team’s success. When a kicker is bad, it greatly impacts the team’s fortunes. But kickers are usually acquired late in the draft if not as undrafted free agents, so despite the fact that Gould is knocking on the door of being the best kicker in Chicago Bears History, it’s still hard to rank this acquisition higher than seventh. For the Bears, Kevin Butler provided a legendary presence for the Bears from 1985-1996. When Dave Wannstedt chose to release Butler prior to the ’96 season, he replaced the legend with a scrub named Carlos Huerta who was sacked following a 3/7 start to the season.
Then veteran Jeff Jaeger was brought in and was solid for three seasons. Injuries forced the Bears to replace Jaeger with Chris Boniol in 1999, and during that year the Bears joined the bad kicker club, with Boniol blowing the opportunity to win several games. Paul Edinger was drafted and played capably from 2000-2004, but for some reason fell out of favor with the regime despite delivering some clutch kicks. Edinger’s replacement in 2005 was veteran Doug Brien. But the usually solid Brien delivered a Huerta/Boniol-type performance to start the 2005 season, so coach Lovie Smith and Angelo set up a “kick off” between Brien and several auditionees, including rookie Robbie Gould.
Gould had not stuck with any team in 2005 and was called in from a construction job to compete. Gould was quickly signed. Author’s note: when Gould was signed, even after he performed solidly in 2005, I thought that perhaps Gould could simply hold down the job until Edinger could be re-signed if he didn’t work out in Minnesota (who had signed him to a lucrative contract), or perhaps Ryan Longwell could be brought in from Green Bay when he hit free agency. How wrong I was, as Gould is currently the fifth most accurate kicker in NFL history with an 85.7% percent accuracy rate over his seven NFL seasons. Gould’s knock has always been his lack of leg strength, and through most of his career he has rarely been trotted out to attempt kicks over 45 yards. But in 2011 Gould defied his critics by hitting an astounding six of six attempts over 50 yards. Gould was a gem of a signing by Angelo.