Vikings Special Teams Has Opportunity for Bounceback

Vikings Special Teams Has Opportunity for Bounceback
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings punter Ryan Wright. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings special teams unit started the season well under the guidance of the new special teams coordinator Matt Daniels.

Unfortunately, that promising start came to a shuddering halt against Chicago last week. A shanked punt, blocked field goal, and penalty flags were pivotal in letting the Bears back into the game. The mistakes never proved costly in the end, as the Vikings came out on top.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Daniels was visibly unhappy that his players didn’t hold up their end of the bargain for the team, calling the mistakes “self-inflicted wounds,” which let Chicago back into the game. He confidently stated, “we can fix all the issues.”

Miami’s Special Teams Woes

The good news for the Vikings is the Dolphins provide the perfect opportunity for a bounceback game. Miami is having a horrible year on special teams. For average yards, the Dolphins rank 28th for kick returns, 30th for punt returns, 31st for kickoff coverage, and 28th for punt coverage.

That’s brutal.

They are also the only team thus far to give up a touchdown from a kickoff return. Devin Duvernay took one 103 yards to the house in Week 2 for the Baltimore Ravens.

Minnesota will look to compound the Dolphins misery by returning to their best on Sunday. Despite disappointing last time, the Vikings still rank highly in kickoff coverage (2nd) and kickoff returns (8th). Daniels believes kickoff returner Kene Nwangwu is on the cusp of breaking a big one. This Dolphins team looks to be the opportune moment to do just that.

Vikings Specialists Need to Get Back on Track

Ryan Wright only had to punt once last week, and it went wrong — after impressing with his “big leg,” then surprising everyone with his arm, executing a fake punt, and throwing the ball to Jalen Nailor for a 13-yard completion against the Saints. A 25-yard punt that was shortened to 15 yards thanks to a holding penalty on DJ Wonnum was a sure-fire way to bring Wright back down to earth. 

The Vikings didn’t punt again in the game, meaning there was no chance for the punter to settle down with a successful punt. Hopefully, he won’t be required too often again this week. When he is, one of those booming punts we’ve already become accustomed to will be the order of the day.

Vikings Depth Chart Ahead of Week 5 vs. Bears
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) kicks a field goal out of the hold of Ryan Wright. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Greg Joseph continued to struggle with field goals from over 50 yards, missing two more last week, though one was blocked. He has been successful only once from five attempts from 50+ this season. Joseph is perfect from under 50 yards, hitting all seven field goals he has attempted. He has successfully made 11 of 12 extra-point attempts. There will be no panic so long as he continues to be impeccable at the shorter distances. However, it would be preferable for Joseph to start making some of the longer kicks. He has proved they are within his capability; he now needs to prove it consistently.

One bad game doesn’t define a season, but if the Vikings special teams misfires again, it will be cause for concern. They must return to the standards they set in the first four weeks.