“No, not yet,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said on Tuesday, about 19 hours after Walsh missed a 46-yard attempt wide left at the end of the Vikings’ first drive of the second half.
Ever since missing a 27-yard field that likely would have given the Vikings a 12-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round of the playoffs in January, Walsh has struggled kicking in games this year.
He has made 8 of 11, but has also missed two extra points.
With a team built to win close games with a strong defense, and the increasing number of games throughout the NFL being decided in the fourth quarter, the Vikings can’t wait forever for Walsh to return to being a reliable kicker.
Asked about his confidence in Walsh after Monday night’s win, Zimmer said “I wish I knew.”
“We need to make those or it’s going to bite us in the rear end,” Zimmer said. “Our team is going to be playing close games. That’s how we’re built, but I think over the course of the last three years we’ve learned how to play in close games.”
On the players’ day off on Tuesday, Walsh at the Vikings’ facility working on his field goals, indicating it’s not a lack of effort. But there is concern that his misses are more mental than a consistent flaw in his form.
Still, Zimmer indicated he wouldn’t say anything extra to Walsh this week.
“No. I don’t talk to Eric Kendricks when he makes a bad play,” he said. “We correct it and we move on. That’s what we do here.”
Walsh has been wide left from 37, 56 and now 46 yards.
The other two kickers who have missed three field goals this year are Will Lutz of New Orleans (5-for-8) and Cody Parkey of Cleveland (5-for-8), but they are both perfect on their extra points.
Further complicating matters is that Walsh, who signed a contract extension last year, has the fifth-highest average annual salary among NFL kickers at $3.25 million.
The Vikings used a heavy rotation at cornerback Monday night.
Terence Newman played 56 of the 66 snaps, Xavier Rhodes was in for 45 snaps and Trae Waynes played 31 snaps. Nickel cornerback Captain Munnerlyn was in for all but two of the defensive snaps as the New York Giants used three-receiver sets the majority of the game.
“It’s been kind of like that, you know. Carolina was in a lot of nickel, Green Bay was in a lot of nickel,” Zimmer said. “… It’s just kind of the pro game now, just a whole bunch of nickel stuff. I thought Captain did a good job in the slot last night. Obviously the outside guys all did a good job. Two safeties played well.”
Because of the increased use of three receivers by offenses around the NFL, base outside linebacker Chad Greenway has been a part-time player. He got in the game for only two snaps against the Giants.
“Chad’s pretty smart. He knows kind of what the game plan is and things going into the game, so he’s a team guy,” Zimmer said. “He just wants to win and when he gets opportunities he’ll go in and play, so that’s all product of the game.”
- The Vikings didn’t get a sack on Monday night, the first time this season that has happened, but Giants QB Eli Manning seemed flustered at times and got rid of the ball quickly, including several that he simply threw away to avoid the pressure. “There’s numerous ways you can affect the quarterback, and in the professional game that’s a big part of it, whether it’s rush or coverage or disguise,” Zimmer said. “I think people respect our pass rushers and probably a little bit of our blitz package as well.”
- Zimmer said he thought about challenging the spot of a second-and-11 run by Jerick McKinnon that gained 10 yards. Matt Asiata was stuffed for a 1-yard loss on third-and-1 and the Vikings punted. The Giants got the ball and scored their first points of the game with two seconds left in the first half. “I was (going to challenge the spot on McKinnon’s run) and then we saw the replay upstairs and his elbow was down before the spot, or we felt like on the replay it was,” Zimmer said.
- The Vikings might have avoided the Giants getting into field goal position if DE Everson Griffen hadn’t jumped offside on fourth-and-4 from the Vikings 42-yard line. There was some question if the Giants would have even snapped the ball on that play, but Zimmer was convinced New York was doing more than just trying to draw the Vikings offside. “They were going to snap it,” he said. “Oh yeah, they were going to snap it. I’ve talked to (Griffen), but I mean I haven’t seen him today. I’m sure I’ll mention something to him.”
- While Zimmer and the players didn’t spend any time last week preparing for this Sunday’s opponent, the Houston Texans, he said the assistant coaches spent some time looking at the Texans’ film. “Quick turnaround for Houston. They’re a good football team. They’ve got a lot of firepower offensively. And defensively they’re physical and they do a great job,” Zimmer said. “It will be another playoff team that we’ve got to contend with. Bill O’Brien does a nice job with that team. It will be a good test. We’re going to need our crowd again.”