Tuesday, January 23, 2018

blair walsh

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optimist
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

We’re an odd lot, Vikings fans. I won’t explain it to you because you already know; how the decades of disappointment and spectacular losses —  not simple, run-of-the-mill defeats, with which a Browns or Bengals fan may be familiar, but grandiose, cataclysmic rounds of failure that always seem to happen on a national stage — have made us skittish and gun-shy in even the most bountiful times. No matter how good it is, we’re always waiting for it to get bad.

Walsh, Anderson, Favre, that trip to the Meadowlands in January of 2001. Those four Super Bowls. Herschel. I am not ashamed of the way we are, because we have innumerable reasons to be. It’s a psychological defense mechanism, borne from years of heartbreak, so cheers to human adaptation.

But here we are at 10-2, with the Vikings currently holding the NFC’s top seed and everything coming up Milhouse, and still, the creeping doubt pervades. We don’t know how, but many of us are sure (as we always are) they will find a way to screw it all up.

Perhaps they will; the likelihood of a Super Bowl win is considerably smaller than that of a playoff flameout, and that’s not a curse, it’s statistics. But I have decided not to worry about that. No, I’ve opted not to concern myself with what the final outcome of the 2017 Vikings season will be, devastating or otherwise. Rather, I’ve chosen to enjoy the ride. And let me tell you, brethren, it feels wonderful.

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BJ Reidell (@RobertReidell), Brett Anderson (@brettAnderson87), Drew Mahowald (@DrewMahowald), Sam Neumann (@NeumSamN) and Sean Borman (@SeanBoarMan) pause at the halfway point to discuss and praise the 6-2 Minnesota Vikings. They give out midseason awards, update their preseason predictions, and predictably venture into long discussions about Teddy Bridgewater.

Check out the midseason review above and subscribe to the Vikings Territory YouTube channel to ensure that you never miss a VT Roundtable discussion, the latest installment of Bump & Run or and a variety of other #content.

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Road to 100 — Episode 96

Graphic designed by Brett Anderson

BJ Reidell and Drew Mahowald review the Minnesota Vikings’ 20-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Century Link Field during Week 2 of the NFL preseason.

Episode 96 is sponsored by BlackStack Brewing and The Twin Cities Directory.

PRIMARY TALKING POINTS

  1. Into: The Agenda (0:00)
  2. Sponsor Note: BlackStack Brewing & The Twin Cities Directory (1:20)
  3. 1st-Team Offense Review: Takeaways & Standout Individual Efforts (1:53)
  4. 1st-Team Defense Review: Takeaways & Standout Individual Efforts (13:58)
  5. Adams & Coley: Rodney Adams Struggling (28:08)
  6. Backup Battle: Case Keenum vs. Taylor Heinicke Review (31:00)
  7. Takeaway Sandwich: Positive-Negative-Positive (40:50)
  8. Blair Walsh: Thoughts on Blair Walsh’s “Antics” (45:13)
  9. Sign-Out: Subscribe on iTunes & Stitcher (47:20)

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A Uniquely Vikings Problem
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

In a perfect world, field goal kickers don’t miss kicks. They relegate themselves to a side field during practice, grab a bucket of balls, and spend hours taking reps from different spots on the grass. Their sole purpose is to turn the swing of a leg into three points, but the outcome isn’t always guaranteed.

Rarely do NFL kickers finish a year with a perfect field goal percentage. Sending a tiny, leather sphere through relatively narrow goalposts isn’t a surefire proposition; factors such as rushing defenders, wind, and the ‘yips’ often turn chip shots into near-impossible tasks for the kicker.

Still, fans expect perfection — even if perfection is rarely the outcome.

I do not. I’m a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings, so I’ve grown accustomed to the inexplicable woes of place kickers. From Gary Anderson to Blair Walsh, I’ve seen, er, sobbed through it all. I no longer take a simple extra point for granted, and after the events of the 2016 season, the other few phases are suddenly a reason for concern.

Forget the offensive line — improved through free agency and the draft — or the quarterback situation; it’s special teams as a whole that could make or break the Vikings’ upcoming season.

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WARNING: Do Not Draft Kickers & Punters

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings find themselves in a bit of a special teams quagmire with the NFL draft quickly approaching.

Blair Walsh, a sixth-round pick in 2012, was notably released this past November and subsequently replaced by former undrafted free-agent kicker Kai Forbath. The Jeff Locke roller coaster, which began with the Vikings selecting the former UCLA punter during the fifth round in 2013, came to a decisive end when he bolted for Indianapolis during free agency this offseason. He has since been replaced on Minnesota’s roster by a pair of previously undrafted punters in Texas Tech’s Taylor Symmank and Boston College’s Ryan Quigley.

Forbath, who connected on 15 of 15 field-goal tries and 11 of 14 extra-point attempts after joining Minnesota ahead of Week 11 in 2016, offers — at the very least — a short-term solution to the Vikings’ kicking situation. Symmank and the recently-signed Quigley, on the other hand, are set to battle it out for the punting job vacated by Locke, but — similar to Forbath — do not necessarily represent definitive long-term options.

Point being, Minnesota is potentially (still) in the market for an upgrade at kicker, punter or both — and the Vikings should refrain from investing any of their very limited draft capital on either special teams position during any round of the 2017 NFL draft.