It is not as flashy as losing Brian Urlacher – the face of the franchise over the past decade – for the remainder of the regular season. It is not as deflating as losing Jay Cutler – the offense’s only hope for survival – to a concussion. And it may not even be as impacting as losing Tim Jennings – one of the best corners in the sport this season – to some vague necky shoulder thing. But make no mistake about it: putting kicker Robbie Gould on IR is a potentially devastating development for the 2012 Chicago Bears.
Gould is reliable. He is clutch. And he has developed an underrated, accurate leg from distance over the last few seasons. He was borderline-guaranteed points for an offensive attack that has struggled to find them. Did anyone on either sideline doubt Robbie would knock Bears v. Seahawks into overtime as he stared down a forty-six yarder at Soldier Field? Of course not. Because Gould NEVER misses that kick. Not on a Sunday in December. And not in a Division Round game against the same opponent in overtime, 2006.
Most kickers do miss that kick. Olindo Mare certainly has but that’s not to attack a player who has a pretty decent kicking resume in the league. 90% of NFL kickers are an out and out crap shoot. Look at Green Bay. Look at San Francisco. Look no further than the final moments of the AFC Championship Game last year. To be able to line up for a field goal with the game on the line and know with near certainty the ball is traveling through the uprights is a luxury the Bears have shared with few other organizations over the last half decade.
The Bears may not lose games as a result of Robbie Gould’s calf injury. We’ll have to wait for Sundays to know that. But it won’t take an absurd dose of sodium pentothal for Lovie Smith and Dave Toub to admit they’ll be holding their breath on every kick, from every distance, for the next 180 minutes of football and possibly beyond. That’s what happens when you remove one of the best kickers in league history from your sideline.