INDIANAPOLIS – In search of an answer for the Vikings’ pernicious kicking problems, Mike Zimmer revealed Thursday he’s thinking about an unorthodox solution.
The Vikings coach said at the NFL scouting combine he’s been thinking about adding a kicking coach to the team’s staff, someone who could work directly with the Vikings’ specialists and lend more focused assistance to the unique challenges of the position.
Zimmer said he’d talked with Ravens coach John Harbaugh — himself a former special teams coordinator who has a specialists coach on his staff — about the idea, and new Vikings special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf is open to the idea.
“[It’s] the technique and seeing a little flaw here or a little flaw there,” Zimmer said. “As you know, we’ve struggled finding the kicker or consistency at that position, especially, and I go back and I think about the three kicks [that Daniel Carlson missed] in Green Bay and when Blair Walsh missed that 27-yarder and how much that affected the organization.
“If we get in the playoffs [instead of missing them by a half-game in 2018], who knows? If we win that first playoff game [against] Seattle [after the 2015 season], who knows? Those are the kind of things that enter my mind if we’re trying to get to the next level.”
Zimmer said many of the candidates he’s considered are former kickers, and he could try to have someone in place by organized team activities in May. The Vikings have decisions to make on both of their specialists — kicker Dan Bailey is an unrestricted free agent, while punter Matt Wile is an exclusive-rights free agent — but Zimmer said he wouldn’t plan to have a specialists coach in place to help with those decisions in the coming weeks.
He even mentioned the idea of having someone other than the punter — such as wide receiver Adam Thielen, safety Harrison Smith or a backup quarterback — hold for field goals, to ensure a greater level of consistency handling the ball.
“A lot of these guys have done it in high school. I’m sure they done it a little bit in college. That part is important for the kicker, as well,” Zimmer said. “If you’ve got a holder that’s not real good, he messes up the kicker, too. That’s a part I probably took for granted a little bit maybe — how hard is it to do this? But I guess it’s harder than I thought.”
‘I never wanted to go’
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman told reporters on Wednesday the team had picked up an option in Zimmer’s deal that keeps the coach under contract through the 2020 season. On Thursday, Zimmer said he’s never wanted to be anywhere other than Minnesota.
“I mean, first of all, I love this football team,” he said. “I’ve given them almost two eyes now. The organization, the owners, working with this group, the fans have been outstanding. I never wanted to go anywhere.
“I’ll be here for 10 more years. I don’t care. I love this situation that we’re in. I never wanted to go anywhere. It was just one of those things. I love it here and I hope I can stay here for eight more years. Whatever. Until they kick me out, I guess.”