As the 2016 season for the Minnesota Vikings comes to an end on New Year’s Day, it will be a final chance for kicker Kai Forbath to make his case for remaining the Vikings kicker next season. Since being signed following the release of Blair Walsh, Forbath has made all 14 of his field goal attempts.
That was the primary reason for Walsh’s ouster from the team – he missed four of 16 field goals and four of 19 extra points. While Forbath has missed four of 16 point-after attempts, his perfect string of field goals likely will keep him in the mix for the kicking job next year.
While he admits it’s in the back of his mind, he is trying to keep his focus on the job at hand today, not the long-term.
“I’m not focused on next year,” Forbath said. “We’ve got one game left and that’s all I’m looking at – trying to finish strong and close out the season on a high note by making all my kicks. What they want me to do is score points and that’s my full focus right now. The rest will take care of itself.”
Coming to a team in midstream is always difficult for players. They’re coming into a group that has already spent months working together and has a familiarity with one another. Being the outside guy coming in can have its challenges.
Forbath said it’s never easy coming into a new locker room, but his familiarity with punter Jeff Locke and long snapper Kevin McDermott – all three played college football at UCLA – made the transition easier. But, for him, the biggest advantage was that he had been there and done that last year, being signed by New Orleans in Week 7 of the 2015 season and finishing out the year as the Saints kicker.
“This year was easier because it was my second time doing it,” Forbath said. “The first time I did it with New Orleans, you had so many thoughts going through your head as to whether I was ever going to get another shot. That had never happened to me before. This year was a little easier because I kept telling myself I’m going to get another shot and just stay ready for when it actually happens.”
While it is still too early to call Minnesota home and the Vikings may look at alternate options to provide competition for the position next season, Forbath wants to make Minnesota his workplace of choice moving forward.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here and I think I’ve done a pretty good job,” Forbath said. “Those decisions as to who stays and who goes isn’t up to me, but I’d like to think I’ve done enough to earn the chance to keep the job next year. I’m going to work hard in the offseason and hopefully I will get that opportunity.”
VIKINGS-BEARS BY THE NUMBERS
- The Vikings have the 30th-ranked offense (32nd rushing, 18th passing) and the second-ranked defense (15th rushing, 4th passing). The Bears have the 13th-ranked offense (19th rushing, 12th passing) and the 13th-ranked defense (27th rushing, 6th passing).
- The Vikings are averaging 311 yards a game (239 passing, 72 rushing). The Bears are averaging 359 yards a game (255 passing, 104 rushing).
- Minnesota is allowing 314 yards a game (212 passing, 102 rushing). Chicago is allowing 345 yards a game (223 passing, 122 rushing).
- The Vikings are tied for sixth in giveaway/takeaway ratio at plus-7 (22 takeaways, 15 giveaways). Chicago is tied for 30th at minus-16 (10 takeaways, 26 giveaways).
- Chicago’s 10 takeaways in 15 games are the fewest of any team in the league.
- Minnesota is 30th in red zone offense, scoring touchdowns on 20 of 46 possessions (43.5 percent). Chicago is tied for 19th at 53.3 percent (24 touchdowns in 45 possessions).
- The Vikings are 23rd in red zone defense, allowing touchdowns on 23 of 40 opponent possessions (57.5 percent). The Bears are seventh at 50.9 percent (28 touchdowns on 55 possessions).
- No team has allowed opponents into the red zone fewer times than the Vikings.
- Chicago is 18th in third-down offense, converting on 68 of 176 chances (38.6 percent). Minnesota is 22nd at 37.3 percent (75 of 201). The league average is 39.9 percent.
- The Vikings defense is 15th on third down, allowing conversions on 78 of 197 opportunities (39.6 percent). The Bears are 19th at 39.9 percent (79 of 198).
- The Bears have seven 300-yard passing games, four from Brian Hoyer and three from Matt Barkley. Sam Bradford has two for the Vikings.
- The Vikings have six 100-yard receiving games – three each from Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. The Bears have eight 100-yard receiving games – four from Cameron Meredith and one each from Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal, Marquess Wilson and Deonte Thompson.
- Chicago has allowed four 100-yard receivers. Minnesota has allowed just two.
- Jordan Howard has five 100-yard rushing games. The Vikings have none.
- Both Minnesota and Chicago have allowed three 100-yard rushers.
- Due to injuries and the need to have three different starting quarterbacks, no Chicago QB has enough pass attempts to qualify for the league lead.
- Bradford is 14th in the league in pass attempts (519), fifth in completions (370), first in completion percentage (71.3), 17th in passing yards (3,627), tied for 21st in touchdown passes (17), tied for second in interceptions (3) and seventh in passer rating (98.3).
- The all-time record for completion percentage in a season is 71.2 percent by Drew Brees in 2011. Bradford is on pace to break that record at 71.3.
- Bradford is eighth in fourth-quarter passer rating at 101.8. Hoyer is 10th at 99.0.
- Bradford is 11th in third-down passer rating at 90.6. No Bears QB had enough pass attempts to qualify.
- Howard is seventh in the league in rushing with 1,178 yards. Jerick McKinnon leads the Vikings with 450 yards, which ranks him 38th.
- Diggs is tied for 12th in receptions with 84. Kyle Rudolph is tied for 26th with 72 and Thielen is tied for 32nd with 68. Meredith leads the Bears with 62, which ties him for 43rd place.
- Thielen is 24th in receiving yards with 960. Diggs is 29th with 903. Meredith leads Chicago with 827 yards, which ranks him 37th.
- Bears kicker Connor Barth is 28th in scoring among kickers with 81 points. Walsh and Forbath have combined to score 99 points, which would rank them in a tie for 19th place. Walsh scored 51 points and Forbath has 48 points.
- Howard is sixth in the league in yards from scrimmage with 1,476 (1,178 rushing, 298 receiving). Thielen is tied for 45th with 975 (960 receiving, 15 rushing).
- Chicago punter Pat O’Donnell is 25th in punting average at 43.9 yards. Locke is 28th at 42.9 yards.
- Locke is 25th in net punting average at 39.2 yards. O’Donnell is 26th at 38.7 yards.
- Marcus Sherels is third in punt-return average at 13.0 yards. Royal is 10th at 8.7 yards.
- Cordarrelle Patterson leads the league in kick-return average at 31.5 yards, more than three yards more than any other return man in the league. Thompson is ninth with a 21.8-yard average.
- Xavier Rhodes is tied for eighth in the league in interceptions with four.
- Danielle Hunter is third in the league in sacks with 12. Everson Griffen is tied for 21st with eight. Chicago linebacker Willie Young is tied for 27th with 7½ sacks. Brian Robison and Akiem Hicks are tied for 31st with seven.
- Griffen and Andrew Sendejo are tied for seventh in defensive fumble recoveries with two.