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Blair Walsh’s misses could torpedo special season for Vikings

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 01: Blair Walsh #3 of the Minnesota Vikings is lifted up by teammate Chad Greenway #52 as the celebrate after Walsh kicked the game-winning field goal against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on November 1, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Vikings defeated the Bears 23-20.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Blair Walsh seems like a nice guy. And he generated plenty of sympathy and goodwill for the way he handled a season-killing 27-yard shank in the playoffs.

But the wide-left maneuver against the Seahawks in the wild-card round was unexpected. He had been reliable since arriving in 2012 as a sixth-round draft pick, earning a four-year, $13 million second contract that has him signed through 2019. He had made 87.2 percent of his field goal tries during the 2015 regular season, and he had missed only once in his career from 20-29 yards out.

This year, it’s different. Whatever fuse blew in Walsh’s brain in January remains unreplaced come September and October, with Walsh already missing five kicks in four games. On Monday night, Walsh went wide left (again), this time from 46 yards.

Unlike last year, the Vikings are now on notice. The question becomes whether they’ll trudge forward and hope things get better, or whether they’ll do something tangible, aimed at making the situation improve.

Here’s the risk: Cutting Walsh and signing a new kicker could result in the situation getting worse.

Here’s a solution: Robbie Gould continues to be available. With Walsh’s $1.15 million salary as a practical matter guaranteed (since he’s a vested veteran), why not sign Gould and keep Walsh on an interim basis? Walsh surely realizes that a team with a strategy flowing from managing close games can’t rely on a kicker who can’t consistently make kicks. So they carry two kickers for a short period of time, give Gould a trial run, and if he doesn’t miss 1.25 kicks per game, he gets the gig and Walsh gets the balance of his salary and the ability to land elsewhere.

Consider that one for a second. If Walsh were released right now, would another team jump at the chance to sign him? Or would another team say, “No thanks, he’s got the yips now”?

Chances are it’s the latter. Chances are the Vikings will see their chance to win a Super Bowl potentially evaporate with the same cruel suddenness that they disappeared a season ago, if they continue to rely on a kicker who suddenly can’t make kicks.

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54 Responses to “Blair Walsh’s misses could torpedo special season for Vikings”
  1. lukedunphysscienceproject says: Oct 4, 2016 11:16 AM

    Yes, nothing will calm a kicker with the Yips down more effectively than signing an accomplished veteran to look over his shoulder.

    Ridiculous. Cut Walsh and sign Gould. Period. 4-0 with a real chance at a deep run is not a time for half measures.

  2. therealtrenches says: Oct 4, 2016 11:20 AM

    Walsh definitely has the yips, but Robbie Gould is no solution. He got cut for a reason. He has a dead leg and was missing FGs left and right at the end of last year. You think he’s a solution? Come on, man.

  3. conormacleod says: Oct 4, 2016 11:21 AM

    Walsh is 8/11 in field goals this year. And one of those misses was from about 60 yards out. Now, should he be doing better? Yes. Because I know he’s missed two extra points as well.

    But, I’d say it’s a little early to hit the panic button. And no, I won’t talk about last years miss in 40 below weather. Mostly because it’s last year.

    Here’s a question for all you keyboard GM’s. How come all 32 teams have not signed Robbie Gould to date?

  4. bleedingfacemask says: Oct 4, 2016 11:24 AM

    Oh sure. Great solution. If I were a head coach, I would certainly sacrifice a roster spot to carry a second kicker. It’s not like I would ever need that roster spot to sign another quarterback in the situation that my starter got injured and went on IR or something…

  5. sdakota says: Oct 4, 2016 11:31 AM

    why does goulds name keep coming up? the guy is done, there is a good reason no one is giving him a sniff

  6. stellarperformance says: Oct 4, 2016 11:32 AM

    You have to consider he’s kicking indoors too. An outdoor team would probably never pick him up at this point. I wonder if factors of that nature play into contract negotiations. Is Mason Crosby getting a (well-deserved) “outdoor” premium?

  7. broncoguy11 says: Oct 4, 2016 11:37 AM

    One thing about Gould though, he would be kicking indoors for majority of his games now, not outdoors in Chicago.

    I think he would be an upgrade, but based on the stats last year, they are both kicking about the same %.

  8. footballfan825 says: Oct 4, 2016 11:38 AM

    Walsh just can’t make it from the left side… from the right he is money

  9. conormacleod says: Oct 4, 2016 11:42 AM

    lukedunphysscienceproject says:
    Oct 4, 2016 11:16 AM
    Yes, nothing will calm a kicker with the Yips down more effectively than signing an accomplished veteran to look over his shoulder.

    Ridiculous. Cut Walsh and sign Gould. Period. 4-0 with a real chance at a deep run is not a time for half measures.
    ———–
    Why was Gould cut?

    Why is he unemployed?

    Those are some serious questions that need to be answered before fans start screaming to sign him. Gould is 34 years old. Perhaps his leg is just plain worn out.

    BTW: Here’s an interesting stat. Gould has averaged 27% touchbacks in his career to Walsh’s 56%.

  10. jimmyjohns01 says: Oct 4, 2016 11:44 AM

    Sign Gould too and waste a roster spot?

  11. tjacks7 says: Oct 4, 2016 11:46 AM

    Walsh isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Zimmer has shown patience with players and its paid off. Just look at Jeff Locke. He was one of the 5 worst punters in the league for 3 years and now he’s in the top 3 for return yards, pins, and forced fair catches.

    Walsh has had a great career so far. He came into the season as the 10th most accurate kicker in NFL history. He’s great on kickoffs and has a limitless leg. Zimmer will let him work through his mental issues. He’s surely not going to dump Walsh for a 34 year old Gould anytime soon.

    P.S. He missed a 46 yarder yesterday.

  12. TheDPR says: Oct 4, 2016 11:48 AM

    Gould should be working. There are some pretty bad kickers with jobs right now. Something’s not right there.

    I think if you’re the Vikings you bring Gould in for a workout, plus another kicker or two. If Walsh isn’t perfect next weekend, you replace him next week.

  13. learysdisciples says: Oct 4, 2016 11:54 AM

    Anything “could” happen. He could make every field goal the rest of the year. He could play quarterback.
    Let’s stick to the facts and stop the rhetoric.

  14. dirtdawg54 says: Oct 4, 2016 11:54 AM

    See? This is what happens when a lawyer has a modicum of success with a website about football rumours. He then starts thinking he can be a GM.

    No, that’s a bad idea. That’s such a bad idea even the Cleveland Browns are unlikely to entertain it.

    Either Walsh is your guy or he isn’t your guy. Every player in the league, every player, goes through periods where he isn’t at his best. it doesn’t mean you should punt them.

    And if you think for a minute that Robbie Gould is the answer you really are a fool.

  15. dayglo80 says: Oct 4, 2016 11:56 AM

    I agree with most of the comments here. What I want to add is that we need Walsh to get in a couple tough situations to gain confidence. We need a tie game with a few seconds left or be trailing by 1/2 and have him nail the kick to get that confidence back. Right now he is in his own head and you can see it. On extra points he has gone from lining up on the left hash, right hash and straight down the middle. I don’t recall any kicker taking extra point kicks from multiple spots. Or hey maybe that is the teams way of gaining him confidence from that distance? I don’t know but I haven’t questioned Zimmer yet and certainly won’t on this. I guarantee you if Walsh misses a kick come January or February from a short distance then he is gone next year. But this year he is here for the long haul and we all have his back!!!!

  16. pocketsstraight says: Oct 4, 2016 11:57 AM

    Here’s a question for all you keyboard GM’s. How come all 32 teams have not signed Robbie Gould to date?

    =====================================
    Because 31 of them don’t have Walsh. Walsh worst in Extra Point % on an active roster, and 2nd worst in FG % on an active roster. Plus he’s 50/50 on touch backs (that’s 25th in the league).

  17. djvh2 says: Oct 4, 2016 11:59 AM

    I hate the Vikings, but they should stick with Walsh. The real issue is that people consider a miss from 46 yards to be a problem. Walsh was awesome before wide-left, and will get it back. As a Packer fan I do hope the Vikings give up on him, because if they work through this he will be a strength of the team by playoff time.

  18. kowboydmac says: Oct 4, 2016 11:59 AM

    Tricky spot to be in for sure. Would love to be in the war room listening to Zimmer and Spielman on the kicking topic.

    Solid team all around, Walsh formerly solid.

    If he can shake the funk, this team can go all the way confidently.

  19. tjacks7 says: Oct 4, 2016 12:00 PM

    Did the Packers cut Mason Crosby after his historically bad 2012 season where he connected on just 21 of 33 attempts or 63.6%? No.

    The playoffs are a long ways away. There’s nobody that’ll walk in today and be an upgrade. Let him work through it and see where he’s at around week 12. No need to overreact this early to the NFLs 10th most accurate kicker in league history struggling a little bit.

  20. lukedunphysscienceproject says: Oct 4, 2016 12:01 PM

    conormacleod says:
    Oct 4, 2016 11:42 AM
    lukedunphysscienceproject says:
    Oct 4, 2016 11:16 AM
    Yes, nothing will calm a kicker with the Yips down more effectively than signing an accomplished veteran to look over his shoulder.

    Ridiculous. Cut Walsh and sign Gould. Period. 4-0 with a real chance at a deep run is not a time for half measures.
    ———–
    Why was Gould cut?

    Why is he unemployed?

    Those are some serious questions that need to be answered before fans start screaming to sign him. Gould is 34 years old. Perhaps his leg is just plain worn out.

    BTW: Here’s an interesting stat. Gould has averaged 27% touchbacks in his career to Walsh’s 56%.
    ============

    First off, I should have been more clear. I am not saying I think Gould is the answer- I am just saying that if the Vikings think he is than they should make him the kicker, not do something dumb like keep them both on the roster as the article suggests.

    Secondly- players get cut for lots of reasons. Gould would have made well over $2m this year, his replacement is making under $900k.

    Also, Gould was cut very late in camp after virtually all other teams had made their kicker decisions.

  21. dizzybruhbruh33 says: Oct 4, 2016 12:03 PM

    Until the Vikings lose a game because of Walsh, he will be on this team. With how well the Vikings’ defense has been playing, he has some time to gain his confidence back.

    #Skol

  22. granadafan says: Oct 4, 2016 12:04 PM

    Kickers score points for your team. That they’re treated so poorly by some teams is just mind boggling. Robbie Gould should have been signed a long time ago. Penny wise, pound fool.

  23. qbarrel says: Oct 4, 2016 12:05 PM

    The problem with kickers is that nobody else in the locker room or on the coaching staff knows what’s going on in their heads. Their game is 95% mental and once they lose confidence, there is virtually nothing anyone can do to help them.

  24. vikingsuberallis says: Oct 4, 2016 12:08 PM

    Walsh is a BUM!! Should have been cut after last years preseason where he missed 5 kicks including pats.
    He will blow it in the playoffs again this year.
    He cannot be trusted.

  25. vikingsuberallis says: Oct 4, 2016 12:11 PM

    Btw, Walsh is the 5th highest paid kicker pulling in
    Over 3m a year.
    What a joke.

  26. realfootballfan says: Oct 4, 2016 12:20 PM

    You have to get rid of these shaky kickers if you’re a contender. Just look at Carolina. They knew they had a shaky kicker in pressure situations, and his misses in the Super Bowl made that a different game coming down the stretch. Arizona is another one that knows they have one of those shaky kickers. You have to get rid of them when you repeatedly see them choke in the big moments like that because who cares if you kick 50 kicks in a row that don’t matter.

  27. skol4life says: Oct 4, 2016 12:38 PM

    Hire him one of those sports shrinks. He just needs to grow a pair

  28. keepcalmandskolon says: Oct 4, 2016 12:39 PM

    We have the Texans this week and then a bye. If he misses again this week I honestly think this would be the time to sign someone else. It’s early enough in the season to change kickers and have them comfortable by the post season, where one kick can make the difference between moving on and going home. This has to be a team first decision. No way we go out again like last year. Gould would be an immediate upgrade. Kicking indoors, and age isn’t an issue, just look at Vinny.

  29. fwippel says: Oct 4, 2016 12:45 PM

    I said it after the draft (and all the subsequent free agent signings of undrafted rookies) that the one mistake the Vikings made this off-season was their failure to address Walsh’s situation.

    Few kickers ever miss a kick that significant and recover to their previous level of performance. Scott Norwood, Lin Elliot, Mike Vanderjagt, Billy Cundiff, all had significant missed that cost their teams postseason wins, and none of them recovered.

    I’m not saying Walsh should have been cut outright, but he absolutely should have been forced to win the job heading into this season.

    This is a very real concern for Viking fans. If a post-season game comes down to a kick by Walsh, I expect Walsh will miss it and cost his team the game. I’m not saying Robbie Gould is the answer – he was cut for a reason.

    All the work Spielman and Zimmer have done after the injuries to continue to field a championship caliber team could be washed down the drain by a kicker who has lost his confidence. I know Walsh is a nice guy, and everyone’s rooting for him; the same was true of the kickers I mentioned above.

  30. weepingjebus says: Oct 4, 2016 12:46 PM

    The way the league’s headed it’s only a matter of time before it is nothing but a bunch of kickers trying to make noncontact scoring plays like a lobotomized version of soccer. Might as well try to lock up as many of them as possible now.

  31. bordner says: Oct 4, 2016 12:54 PM

    Bad idea – the vikings aren’t deep enough talent-wise to waste a roster spot on a second kicker.

  32. jgedgar70 says: Oct 4, 2016 1:09 PM

    No reason for the Vikes to panic. Walsh has done this before. He was terrible his last month at Georgia. I was surprised his rookie year when all the fantasy experts had him as one of the top 3 kickers. They turned out to be right, for the most part. I think they should stick with him.

  33. mnfaninil says: Oct 4, 2016 1:41 PM

    For Vikings fans that remember the year Walsh was drafted, he was 21 of 35 his senior year at Georgia! For those who argue he just needs a game on the line situation to prove himself, I personally think he showed what would happen against Seattle and in the 3 of the 4 games this season.

    There are more than 32 people in the world who can kick a ball through the upright. Bring in about 20, put them through tough situations and pick the best one. Walsh gets paid over a million dollars to do two things, kick the ball through the uprights and kickoff. Clearly he cannot be counted on the do the first anymore.

  34. kjdoyle58 says: Oct 4, 2016 1:42 PM

    Walsh…quickly becoming Gary Anderson 2.0 – without the perfect season…go Falcons…not that many of you current Vikes fan would know this…

  35. vikesfansteve says: Oct 4, 2016 1:44 PM

    Remember the last time the Vikings started 4-0. That whole season AD had a fumbling problem. Then he fumbled away home field advantage against the bears on MNF. He vowed it wouldn’t happen again. Wrong. He fumbled away the Super Bowl against the saints. Why no consequences. Heck he even fumbled the win to the seahawks last year minus Blair Walsh. Walsh had the same problems last year and it came back to bite the Vikings in the end. It will happen again if they don’t light a fire under Walsh and maybe bringing in Gould will do that. Because the last thing the Vikings need is another Gary Anderson/Blair Walsh moment. Ask Billy Cundiff and the Ravens. A team that was able to win the SB but would have had a chance to win 2. So the long winded answer to your question Florio is YES!

  36. athwartships says: Oct 4, 2016 1:54 PM

    It’s business, not personal. Shop a kicker now or risk derailing what is turning out to be a good (if not great) season for them.

    Let kicking be the reason you blow the season and no one will ever let you forget it.

  37. ragnarthemagnificent says: Oct 4, 2016 1:54 PM

    Be smart, trade for the best kicker you can get and rid us all of the Blair Walsh Project.

  38. lambeaudungbarn says: Oct 4, 2016 2:08 PM

    Kickers are like Card Players and Baseball players, Superstitious to no end!
    Will somebody please find whatever it is has lost He left it on the bus to Chicago or someplace.
    My Wife watched both kicks last night and she said “His foot was over further on the kick he missed” OK Vikes there you go, that is your trouble, now please pay her consulting fee.

  39. wellthatsinteresting says: Oct 4, 2016 2:16 PM

    The Gary Anderson miss was a bit different…it was his first miss of the entire season. He had the confidence to make that kick and then he missed. You can tell that Walsh has lost his confidence. Find those kids that wrote him the letter(s) last year and invite some of them to sit on the Vikings bench in all the remaining home games. At least he won’t go ‘wide left’ at B of A Stadium again.
    But seriously folks…
    As difficult as it is to watch, give him some time. Walsh has won plenty of games for the Vikes over the years. Walsh may cost some NFL gamblers their money, but I don’t think he’ll cost us a game….I hope…I pray…

  40. thisistheonlygame says: Oct 4, 2016 2:24 PM

    There is no way Walsh gets cut or replaced this season. He has been a great kicker for his entire career. A few bad games doesn’t change that.

    Nearly every kicker goes through this at some point. Some work it out some don’t. I think Walsh figures it out.

  41. purpleguy says: Oct 4, 2016 2:41 PM

    There’s a reason most kickers are unemployed right now — not sure there are better alternatives to our crappy kicker right now. At least I got a free beer last night when I bet the guy next to me at the game he’d miss that 46 yarder.

  42. stellarperformance says: Oct 4, 2016 3:16 PM

    Lambeau Field. Saturday, December 24, 2016. 3:13 PM. Temperature 28 degrees.

    “Sixteen seconds to go in the game. The Vikings… trailing the Packers by two….with the division title and home-field advantage on the line. The loser stays home. Fifty-four yard kick with a stiff breeze from the right. President-elect Clinton in attendance.

    Walsh, standing to the side, blowing into his hands to keep warm, kicks snow away from his approach during the Green Bay time out. Lines up. It’s the snap…and the kick.

    IT HIT THE CROSS BAR! IT BOUNCED OUT….NO GOOD!!” PACKERS WIN! PACKERS WIN! PACKERS WIN!”

  43. allight59 says: Oct 4, 2016 3:41 PM

    stellarperformance says:
    Oct 4, 2016 3:16 PM
    Lambeau Field. Saturday, December 24, 2016. 3:13 PM. Temperature 28 degrees.

    “Sixteen seconds to go in the game. The Vikings… trailing the Packers by two….with the division title and home-field advantage on the line. The loser stays home. Fifty-four yard kick with a stiff breeze from the right. President-elect Clinton in attendance.

    Walsh, standing to the side, blowing into his hands to keep warm, kicks snow away from his approach during the Green Bay time out. Lines up. It’s the snap…and the kick.

    IT HIT THE CROSS BAR! IT BOUNCED OUT….NO GOOD!!” PACKERS WIN! PACKERS WIN! PACKERS WIN!”
    —–
    Nice try, Stellar, but Vikings will have home advantage sewed up by this game. Enjoy trying to beat Shaun Hill and our 2nd teamers. Vikings 21-13.

  44. conormacleod says: Oct 4, 2016 4:20 PM

    fwippel says:
    Oct 4, 2016 12:45 PM
    I said it after the draft (and all the subsequent free agent signings of undrafted rookies) that the one mistake the Vikings made this off-season was their failure to address Walsh’s situation.
    ———
    Did you also say they’d be 4-0?

  45. shaggytoodle says: Oct 4, 2016 4:35 PM

    The vikings day plays lights out D and the offense plays mistake free, and they end up grinding out wins, that works in the regular season but in the post-season its a different animal.

  46. vikingfan23 says: Oct 4, 2016 5:13 PM

    shaggytoodle says:
    Oct 4, 2016 4:35 PM
    The vikings day plays lights out D and the offense plays mistake free, and they end up grinding out wins, that works in the regular season but in the post-season its a different animal.

    ———————

    Well, actually according to the 2015 Broncos, the 2013 Seahawks, the 2011 Giants and a whole bunch of other teams, what you described is pretty much winning playoff football.

    Shaggy, don’t you ever tire of embarrassing yourself and your fellow Packer fans by spoutin off erroneous stuff?

  47. lindacaseauthor says: Oct 4, 2016 5:34 PM

    bordner says:
    Oct 4, 2016 12:54 PM
    Bad idea – the vikings aren’t deep enough talent-wise to waste a roster spot on a second kicker.
    —————————–
    Yeah right cheesy, you wish we weren’t deep. Crap statement.

  48. In Teddy We Trust says: Oct 4, 2016 10:26 PM

    I know one sure way to make Walsh’s issues irrelevant. Score touchdowns when you get the chance. I’m tired of watching this team dominate games and then look up and see they’re only up by one score.

  49. 13worldchampioinships says: Oct 4, 2016 10:32 PM

    kjdoyle58 says:
    Oct 4, 2016 1:42 PM
    Walsh…quickly becoming Gary Anderson 2.0 – without the perfect season…go Falcons…not that many of you current Vikes fan would know this…

    1 9
    Report comment

    —–

    Just what I was going to say.

  50. zygizag says: Oct 5, 2016 12:01 AM

    I hope he turns it around but I do not think coach Zimmer wants to have a game, or a play-off game rest on the leg and head of a yippy kicker. I don’t think they traded and 1 and a 4 for Sammy B only to potentially have it be all for naught again. Previously when Coach Zimmer was asked about bringing in kickers to try out he would always say, “Blair is our kicker.” Today he said, “No, not yet.”

    BYE WEEK MAY BE BYE BYE WEEK FOR WALSH UNLESS HE GETS HIS HEAD SCREWED ON STRAIGHT, WHICH I HOPE HE DOES.

    Does Philli have more than one kicker on their squad???

  51. zygizag says: Oct 5, 2016 12:15 AM

    In the ultimate team sport, kicking is weird. It is like bowling or golf. No one cause you to miss that strike, or that put but you. Do defenders. NO people working against you. It is just you and the ball and hole and pins.

    Really as long as the OL does it’s job* the only ones that cause a kick to be missed is the snapper, holder and kicker. No one can effect the snap except the snapper himself. Perfect snap. No one can effect the hold, except the holder himself. Perfect hold. No one can effect the kick* but the kicker himself.

    If the kicker has become his own worst enemy, he needs to be replaced if at all possible.

    Personally I think Blair should of been challanged with others in the summer and preseason and EARN HIS JOB (like the other 53) then if successful that would of made him more sure of himself, which is not the problem.

  52. expertatnfl says: Oct 5, 2016 12:28 PM

    I think the Vikings front office should start critiquing NFL reporters.

  53. lambeaudungbarn says: Oct 5, 2016 2:14 PM

    The issue is he is as bad at 29 yards as he is from 56 yards,
    Or should we say he is as good at 56 yards as he is at 29 yards!
    You just hold your breath every time he steps on the field!
    I’d rather have a kicker with a 45 yard max that is good out to there, missing from the Left hash is horrible.

  54. shaggytoodle says: Oct 5, 2016 3:51 PM

    vikingfan23 says:
    Oct 4, 2016 5:13 PM
    Well, actually according to the 2015 Broncos, the 2013 Seahawks, the 2011 Giants and a whole bunch of other teams, what you described is pretty much winning playoff football.

    Shaggy, don’t you ever tire of embarrassing yourself and your fellow Packer fans by spoutin off erroneous stuff?

    ______________

    If the Vikings offense plays as good as the Seahawks or Giants offense in those years they will have a chance….

    In the playoffs and regular season it’s different if you don’t believe me look at the regular season and post season games of both Seattle vs. Minny and, GB vs. Zona two totally different games. While the Vikings have been done well this year. It’s 4 games… how many times how the Vikings started out great and not made the Super Bowl in the 35 years?

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