It’s been almost four months since the playoff Miss Heard ‘Round the World – Blair Walsh’s missed 27-yard field goal attempt in the closing seconds of the Minnesota Vikings’ playoff loss to Seattle – and it would seem the NFL world isn’t going to forget it any time soon.
The Twitter trolls were relentless. Months later, even the NFL got involved, promoting one of their games of the year as the Seahawks-Vikings game, which it entitled “The Blair Miss Project.”
It is something that won’t be erased easily from the memory. It won’t be Scott Norwood’s infamous “Wide Right” miss in the Super Bowl, but, for Vikings fans, it’s not far away.
It would appear that, even with 3½ months of distance in between the infamous miss and now, it isn’t going to be forgotten any time soon.
At the owners meeting coaches’ breakfast, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was asked about Walsh and the potential that his confidence may be damaged. Zimmer was quick to say that he isn’t concerned about his lack of confidence.
“I’m going to try to make sure that he has success as much as possible,” Zimmer said. “You’re always only as good as your last kick, right? We want to try to make sure that a lot of his kicks are good kicks.”
One thing Zimmer intends to do is not put an undue amount of pressure on Walsh early. He intends to keep things as they always have been with the progression of getting players ready for the coming season.
Like players walking through reps, the intention is that the Vikings will keep things normal and not ask Walsh to deliver a bomb field goal when replicating a two-minute drill.
“We’re not going to start him out with a 60-yarder the first day of training camp or the first day of OTAs,” Zimmer said. “It’s not going to be a 60-yarder, I can tell you that.”
Zimmer was quick to dismiss the notion that Walsh’s confidence has been shattered. He’s not curled up in a fetal ball at his house sobbing uncontrollably. He’s missed field goals before – never as big as the one against Seattle, but he missed others. He’ll miss some next year. Nobody is perfect. Ask Gary Anderson.
But Zimmer doesn’t see the missed field goal as the end of the line for Walsh. Just as a quarterback who throws a key interception in a playoff loss or a running back who has a critical fumble or a defender who drops an easy interception that would have ended a game, he hopes the miss will be motivation for the future and doesn’t envision Walsh’s confidence to be something that is irreparably lost.
“I don’t know that I need to build his confidence,” Zimmer said. “But I’m going to make sure that I don’t need to build his confidence. I just believe that, if you’re struggling a little bit – I’m not saying he was, he made three out of four, but that’s the one everybody remembers. Now we’re going to try to make sure that we see it go through the bucket a few times.”
There is a time-honored belief that kickers are different than the rest of the team. They have a relatively well-defined job – kick the ball and get out of the way if it’s coming back at you unless contact is a last resort. There is some truth to it, but they’re as much a member of the team as the quarterback, the shut-down cornerback or the pass-rushing terrorist. If anything, kickers have more pressure on them than most players.
So will Walsh have to be treated with kid gloves? Not according to Zim.
“I don’t think so,” Zimmer said. “They might be a little more sensitive than the rest of the guys. I don’t necessarily think that.”