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What Impact Does Replacing Gould with Mare Have on Bears' Postseason Chances?

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 02:  Robbie Gould #9 of the Chicago Bears kicks a game-tying field goal out of the hold of Adam Podlesh #8 against the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field on December 2, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Seahawks defeated the Bears 23-17 in overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2012

Kickers

How many of us have them?

Kickers

Ones we can depend on?

-With apologies to Whodini

Kickers—you just can't trust them.

Whether in fantasy football or NFL games, they tease you with relevance and then pull a Mason Crosby and miss a ton of kicks when it counts.

As if the Chicago Bears didn't have enough on their plate already, kicker Robbie Gould has been placed on injured reserve with a strained calf. He injured it just before Sunday's game against Minnesota, and clearly, it was bad enough to shelve him.

In his stead, the Bears have signed Olindo Mare, a 16-year veteran kicker last employed in Carolina and cut in this preseason.

Mare is an 81 percent kicker lifetime and made 22 of 28 kicks last season. He replaces Gould, who was a 84 percent kicker this season with 21 of 25 field goals made. 

Of the players hurt, a kicker is probably the least of the Bears' issues, but in the playoffs, a solid kicker could be the difference between advancing and going home.

The Bears chose Mare over Neal Rackers and Billy Cundiff. He doesn't have much of a leg (was just 6-of-9 from between 30-40 yards in 2011), but is reliable on extra points.

That's mostly what the Bears need to worry about—you can't miss extra points after all. 

Still, the questionable range for Mare is a concern and puts extra pressure on the offense at the end of close games to get as close to the end zone as possible.

That is a concern. Sure, you want to get as close as possible anyway, and you never want to be in a position to kick a 45 or 50-yard attempt. It happens, though, and in today's NFL, kickers have a much better leg than what Mare offers.

Mare has also had a history of injury issues and more than a few critical misses. He's definitely streaky as well, the last attribute you want in a kicker as you head into the playoffs.

On the plus side, Mare has plenty of playoff experience, having seen postseason action multiple times with the Miami Dolphins as well as the Seattle Seahawks. He knows what a big game feels like and won't rattle under the spotlight.

Unfortunately, since he's naturally streaky, you might not be able to tell he isn't rattled.

The dropoff from Gould to Mare is not insignificant, and I'm struck that Rackers didn't get the nod instead.

While Rackers' overall career percentage is 80 percent, the last four seasons, he has been consistently over 85 percent, and three of the last four, he's made 89 percent and above of his kicks.  He's got a much stronger leg and has never missed from between the 30 to 40-yard mark.

Rackers did have a rough preseason and lost a battle with Graham Gano, so he may have shown some real dropoff, but I find it hard to believe his body of work was worse than Mare's.

If this makes anything more shaky for a postseason run (assuming there is one), it's the inability to consistently hit the longer field goal attempts.

At the end of the day, if the Bears make it into the postseason and lose, there will be other more compelling reasons for that loss and likely plenty of opportunities to win without relying on Mare.

That said, those situations arise, and I'd feel a lot better with Gould or Rackers lining up for a last-second field-goal attempt from 35 yards out.

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Follow me on Twitter at @andrew_garda.

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