Robbie Gould proved his worth to the Chicago Bears over the years as a primary scoring source with game-changing kicks and elite accuracy, including converting 100 percent of all his field goals from 20 to 29 yards. But he started to decline once he stopped being perfect from 30 to 39 yards, a stretched that lasted from 2008 till 2011. He worsened more by only converting 75.0 percent of his field goals in 2014 and missed three extra-point field goals in his last three years.
Gould improved last year by converting on 84.6 percent of his kicks last year, except, with that range being lower in comparison to his 86.0 percent, from 2005 till 2013 (86.9 percent from 2006 till 2013), the Bears clearly felt that he was not going to get better and thus replaced him with Connor Barth.
But Barth may not be the upgrade that they think he is unless his salary made Gould expendable. Still, Barth's production shows that he cannot bail out teams the way Gould has been able to.
From 40 to 49 yards, Gould only missed six field goals over the past four years while Barth has missed the same number in half that timespan. Over the last two years, Gould has been 7-for-10 from 50 yards or more. Although Barth has been nearly comparable by going 4-of-6, he only went 3-of-5 in 2015 while Gould went 7-of-9.
To Barth's credit, he has only missed one field goal from 30 to 39 yards over the past six years and missed his first extra-point field goal last season, the first season of the 33-yard extra-point field goal.
Regardless, the Bears are taking a huge gamble because all they are saying is that they are going to be in the red zone frequently this year.
They were 25th in red zone touchdown efficiency last season, and unless Alshon Jeffrey, Kevin White, Jeremy Langford, and Zach Miller play together continuously and get them past their opponents' 20-yard line, Barth's signing will prove to be worthless.
His best season was in 2014 with head coach John Fox's Denver Broncos, and with Peyton Manning leading the offense to score touchdowns on 63.5 percent of their red zone attempts, Barth's job proved to be easy.
To be fair to the Bears, they did convert 58.3 percent of their red zone attempts for touchdowns in 2013. But with the good health of the positional players and soft schedule making things easy, Fox and general manager Ryan Pace have made this season's theme about gambling.
Gambling is all about high risks versus high rewards, and for a team that has playoff aspirations, all it is saying is that it is high risk. The investments and commitments to their new and current players could pay off in the end. Except, when continuity, talent, and health all factor into victories, any one or two of the three will prove Fox's critics right as they deem him as the fraud they deem him to be.