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Bad day comes with the territory for Chicago Bears PK Parkey

November 13, 2018

Bears coach Matt Nagy reaffirmed that the team is not planning to audition replacements for Cody Parkey, who clanked four kicks off the Soldier Field uprights in Sunday’s 34-22 victory over the Lions – two field goals and two extra points.

But that doesn’t mean Parkey is off the hook.

“Everybody in this room has had a bad day, and we understand what (Sunday) was,” Nagy said Monday at Halas Hall. “We also understand that we’ve got to make field goals. There’s that balance there.”

After going 0-for-2 Sunday, Parkey has made just 13 of his 18 FG attempts for a 72.2 percent success rate. Only two NFL kickers with 10 attempts or more have a lower success rate – the Seahawks’ Sebastian Janikowski (71.4) and the Chargers’ Caleb Sturgis (69.2), who has battled a quad injury. Parkey also missed a potential game-winning 53-yarder in overtime against the Dolphins.

The four-year, $15-million contract Parkey signed with the Bears as an unrestricted free agent gives him some margin for error, since he was guaranteed $9 million. And, the fact that the Bears won easily makes it easier to rationalize one bad day.

But, in an interesting reversal (maybe), Nagy seemed to be reconsidering the potential advantages of Parkey practicing in the unique elements at Soldier Field, which he dismissed Sunday after Parkey plunked the right upright three times and the left once.

“There’s a possibility,” Nagy said Monday. “Yeah, there’s a possibility.”

The missed extra points are likely an anomaly since Parkey had hit 28 straight to open the season before going 2-for-4 on Sunday (one off each upright), although he missed three of 29 PAT tries with the Dolphins last year. But, when combined with the missed field goals of 41 and 34 yards (both off the right upright), they were enough to convince Nagy to go for two after the Bears’ only second-half touchdown. Nagy said that doing what’s best for the team sometimes supersedes showing confidence in an individual.

“He wasn’t having a good day,” Nagy said. “There’s a balance of being able to show trust to say, ‘Hey, get back out there, kick one and make it and get back on track.’ And it didn’t happen (Sunday). Cody understands that, so when we go for two there at the end, he understands.

“So there’s a balance, but I believe in being honest. I’m not going to sugarcoat anything, and he wouldn’t want that from me. So we’ll have our own conversations and keep it between us, but I’ll always handle it as best as I can for the team and for him, and then just stick with my gut.”

That doesn’t mean Nagy has lost confidence in his kicker going forward, and Parkey can start to rebuild that trust in practice, but ultimately, making kicks in practice isn’t what matters.

“The ones in the game count,” Nagy said. “That’s how you gain it back. He knows how important these are, especially at the end of the regular season -- these are huge. You’ve got to make them. It’s just too important. They’re too crucial.”

To put Parkey’s struggles in perspective, Nagy referenced the tribulations of the Packers’ 12-year veteran Mason Crosby. He missed four of five FG tries in a 31-23 loss to the Lions in Week Five but came back the following week to go 4-for-4 in a 33-30 victory, including a game-winning 27-yarder as time expired.

“It’s just a crazy cycle, and it’s just a matter of your patience,” Nagy said. “But now, he also needs to take the next step of trying to figure out how he can get better and we’ll go ahead and do that.”

During his ordeal, Parkey was buoyed by his teammates but aware of the coaches’ state of mind.

“Of course they’re frustrated,” he said after the game. “But who’s more frustrated than myself. This is my job. This is what I’m supposed to do. I have to be better than that.”

Nagy will talk with his kicker, but not too much, since he admits placekicking is not his area of expertise.

“If I’m spending time with him, he’s in trouble,” Nagy said, maintaining a sense of humor. “He doesn’t want to spend time with me. (But) we’ll talk, and I’ll make sure that we understand (each other). He understands it was tough. He gets it. He’s not a child. He understands the magnitude of it. If you overdo it, if you beat it down, you just make it worse.”

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