In this ongoing series I'll take a look the Chicago Bears on a position by position basis, all to better get a handle on how their 2011 roster should shape up. The offense is in the books (check out all our roster analysis stuff), and before I get into the defense I wanted to touch on the specialists. Kicker, punter, and long snapper...
But before I get into those 3 positions, I wanted to mention Bears special teams ace Corey Graham. Pro Football Focus had him rated as the 5th best special teamer with a +4.5 overall grade and his 23 special teams tackles led the NFL. Brian Iwuh also had a positive rating from PFF at +1.5. Garrett Wolfe, Rashied Davis, and Rod Wilson were all at the bottom of Bears special teamers with identical -2.5 grades. Penalties hurt their overall marks, Wolfe had one, Davis two, and Wilson three.
One more special teams tangent: PFF had Devin Hester tied for 1st among the return men with Marc Mariani, and Danieal Manning was their 9th rated returner. I wonder if their rating system takes into account the sheer fear Hester puts into special teams coaches.
Robbie Gould - signed through 2013 - If Robbie Gould continues his current scoring pace, he should pass Walter Payton for 2nd all time right after mid season. He's been a money kicker and he's also the most accurate FG kicker in Bears history. He still dosen't have the strongest leg on kickoffs, but he did nail 3 of 4 FGs from 50+ in 2010.
It's his poor kickoff rating that drags down his overall PFF grade. Among kickers that kicked in at least 8 games he ranks 30th with a -2.6. But if you take into consideration that he had one real bad game in the kickoff department week 15 against the Vikings when his -5.4 just killed his overall 2010 grade. Do you remember the weather conditions in that game? Take away that one game and his overall grade goes from a -2.6 to a +2.8.
Brad Maynard - free agent - The Brad Maynard era may be over. I think the Bears may offer him a 1 year deal to come back, with the understanding he'll have to compete for the job. He was 19th in placing punts inside the 20 with 24, but his 40.1 average was the worst of his career and the worst in the NFL. Age may have caught up with him, he just turned 37, so maybe he'll call it a career. He's still a very good directional punter so a contract offer should come from somewhere.
PFF had Maynard ranked as their worst punter. But here are some stats that PFF accumulated that caught my eye; He led the NFL with 14 punts out of bounds and his 15 punts downed was 2nd to four players that tied with 17. He's simply a directional punter, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Richmond McGee - signed through 2012 - This isn't the first time McGee's been employed by the Bears. I think this time however, he has a legit shot at making the team. In 2008 and 2009 he saw some preseason action punting 7 times for a 35.7 average, with 2 punts inside the 20 and 3 punts downed.
Patrick Mannelly - signed through 2012 - The Legend that is Patrick Mannelly continues to grow among Bears fans. Check out his website for some neat stuff, longsnapper.com. Realistically he could long snap another 4 or 5 years. The potential of a new holder on PATs and FGs could be an issue, but I'm sure Mannelly's snaps will be on the money.
2011 OUTLOOK - I would not be surprised to see another kicker and long snapper come in for some camp reps to give Gould and Mannelly a break, but neither will be going anywhere. And even if Maynard is resigned, adding another punter into the mix is a possibility. I would love to see a punter brought in with a big enough leg to kickoff.