With the 2019 draft in the rearview mirror, the Minnesota Vikings have had plenty of new recruits on the field during OTAs. Yesterday however, there was another new face among the purple crowd, and he will undoubtedly be a gamechanger. I’m talking about kicking coach Nate Kaeding.
— Andrew Krammer (@Andrew_Krammer) May 29, 2019
Mike Zimmer had tossed around the idea of hiring a coach specifically to work with the kicking crew, and I’m glad to see him pull the trigger. The Vikings addressed the kicking crisis last year by bringing in Dan Bailey, as he’s the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history. But the work was far from done, as kickers need a capable holder and consistent long snapper to be successful. Austin Cutting was drafted last month to compete with Kevin McDermott for the snapping job, and Kaeding will also try to help holder Matt Wile perfect his craft.
Considering the struggles Minnesota has had with field goals and extra points in the past, I’m all for the addition of a kicking coach. Very few teams have one, so I’m glad to see the Vikings trying something different. Several candidates including ex New Orleans Saint John Carney had been linked to the Vikings, but the team ultimately chose former San Diego Charger Nate Kaeding. Despite having an excellent field goal percentage of 86.2% and extra point percentage of 99.4% during his career, Kaeding was known for falling apart at critical moments. He was even nicknamed “The Playoff Choke-Artist” by Bleacher Report back in 2010, so he seems like an odd choice as a mentor for Bailey.
His struggles aside, Nate spent almost a decade in the league and should be able to help exorcise Minnesota’s kicking demons. Zimmer recently confirmed at a press conference that experience was a big factor in choosing Kaeding. “I feel like it’s important that these specialists have someone who has been there and done that and can kind of watch the minute, little things that go on with the kicking game, whether it be the hold or the placement of the ball or when the snap is coming, just all these different things,” Zimmer said. “I think it will be a good resource.”
Fans have lived in fear of field goals for far too long. Because of big playoff misses like Gary Anderson in 1998 and Blair Walsh in 2015, it feels like the Vikings are cursed. With Dan Bailey kicking and Nate Kaeding by his side, we can give this curse the boot.