Vikings New Coaching Staff Has Zero Anxiety about Team’s Kicker
A common pastime among Minnesota Vikings fans is fearing the worst from kickers, but the team’s new coaching staff has zero anxiety about the position in 2022.
Greg Joseph enters his second campaign with the Vikings as the uncontested starter, one of the first seasons of the last half-decade where Minnesota has no formal kicking competition.
The franchise “tried” to have a kicker battle back in the spring, signing undrafted free agent Gabe Brkic from the University of Oklahoma. But after June’s minicamp, the Vikings coaching staff had seen enough, releasing Brkic soon after the event. Brkic responded by signing with the Green Bay Packers.
And on Monday, Vikings special teams coordinator Matt Daniels shined some light on why there shall be no kicker’s duel at training camp. In short, he adores Joseph’s skillset and performance, even predicting Joseph would have the best season of his career in 2022. Daniels made the declaration and added, “I’ll put it out there right now. I’m sure of it.”
Joseph encountered a topsy-turvy first season with the Vikings — mostly because of one game. Minnesota was grateful for Joseph in Week 1 at the Cincinnati Bengals after drilling a cold-blooded 53-yard field goal sending the Vikings to overtime. Yet, one week later, Joseph missed an easy game-winner in Arizona against the Cardinals, prompting Vikings fans to resentfully think, “same ‘ol, same ‘ol.”
But Joseph wasn’t defined by the folly, as was the case for some kickers of Vikings past. The South African wound up connecting a couple of game-winning field goals as the season wore on, ending afternoons of the Lions and Packers in Weeks 5 and 11, respectively.
He was also terrific from distance. In 2021, he converted seven of nine field goals at or beyond 50 yards, a statistic precisely emulating Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, who is considered one of the league’s best. Per his agent, Joseph led the NFL in touchback percentage and was sixth in total field goals made. Of all kickers attempting 25+ field goals last season, Joseph ranked 13th, converting 86.8% of kicks. And by Vikings kicker standards, this is cause for celebration.
Extra points were knocked through at an average rate, 36 for 40 (90%). For some NFL teams, that isn’t a compliment. But for the Vikings, it was an improvement inside the Mike Zimmer era.
According to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, Joseph has hit 33 of 35 field goal attempts at 2022 training camp.
Finally, the bold prediction about Joseph is quite the change of pace. The former coaching staff had a reputation for prickliness regarding kickers, so for Daniels to serve up a lofty forecast says something about the positivity trickling out of TCO Performance Center.
The Vikings rank dead last in the NFL per field goal percentage since the start of 2014.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).