When it comes to kicking, Blair Walsh has never finished last.
It’s been a gift he’s had since childhood. He can kick farther and better than just about anyone he’s ever been up against. As a rookie two years ago, he set the all-time NFL record for field goals of 50-plus yards.
Of the kickers with enough attempts to qualify (one per game) for the league lead in field goal percentage, only four have made less than 80 percent of their attempts. At the bottom of that list is Walsh. His field goal percentage is .727 (24 of 33).
In the three games in December the Vikings have played, Walsh has missed five of eight field goals. But it should be noted that three of those eight kicks have been beyond 50 yards and the 68-yarder against Miami would only be famous had it been made.
While not making excuses, Walsh was adamant that the confidence from the coaching staff and the confidence from within hasn’t waned. He’s been asked to make field goals that are coin-flip propositions. He’s missed field goals that should be made. He owns up to that.
But to say he’s the 32nd best kicker in the league is wrong.
“If you analyze it and look back at the last four or five misses, you’re not going to find many that are under 50 (yards),” Walsh said. “It’s all part of it. They expect you to make the ones over 50. I expect to make the ones over 50. It’s sort of a bar or a precedent that you’ve already set for yourself coming into the league and making how many I did. It’s something that I think I’m very good at and I’m going to continue to work on it and be more fundamentally sound outdoors at 50-plus.”
Nine misses for a kicker are always tough. We’ve reached a point in NFL evolution that kickers are too good for their own good. There is talk of narrowing the goal posts to increase the number of misses.
Combine that with misses that are beyond their control, a kicker’s life is besieged with striving for perfection as the NFL continues to contemplate making perfection a little more difficult. When you aren’t reaching that anticipated pinnacle, the numbers are your enemy, not your friend.
“It’s tough when you see that the blocks count against you and there are a bunch of variables that people don’t see,” Walsh said. “But at the end of the day, when the ball leaves your foot and the protection is good, you’ve got to make it. We’ve have seven times this year where that’s been the case. I’ve got to make that. I think my track record will speak for itself, kicking outdoors at well.”
For a lot of young kickers, having the lowest field goal percentage in the league would be troubling and cause for concern as it pertains to their long-term future. But given the track record Walsh has built up, he’s convinced that the next long streak of consecutive field goals is ready to get started and he isn’t putting too much thought over the misses this season.
“There’s no extra pressure on yourself,” Walsh said. “You just go out there and do what you know how to do. You have to be confident in this league in order to stay in this league. I think that’s something I’ve exuded so far and you just continue to put the work that you know how to put into it and things will work themselves out.”
Walsh remains confident despite low ranking
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