Jim Souhan: Nickname is one area Walsh is lacking

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 23, 2012 - 12:03 AM

 The moniker assigned to kicker Blair Walsh is a little too easy. You know, the way he makes kicking look.

hide

Blair Walsh's first NFL game saw him pump his fist after making a 55-yard field goal to tie the score at the end of regulation, followed by an overtime field goal to beat the Jaguars.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

His nickname is "The Blair Walsh Project." Which stinks.

"Low-hanging fruit" is what Vikings punter Chris Kluwe calls it.

We as a people must do better than this. If Rams rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein can be "Legatron," then the rookie kicker who is outperforming Legatron deserves an equally cool moniker.

Kluwe offered "Legtimus Prime." That triggered a gag reflex. Kluwe tried again: "A couple of 'Lord of the Rings' fans have offered 'Legolas,' " Kluwe said. "But I think he looks more like a hobbit than an elf."

Blair Walsh does, indeed, look like he might be hiding very hairy feet inside his cleats. He also may be hiding performance-enhancing corns or callouses. In 14 NFL games, Walsh has not only justified his choice as replacement for the admirable Ryan Longwell, he's become maybe the best kicker in the league.

Last Sunday, Walsh made three field goals of 50 yards or longer. He's 8-for-8 from that range this season, tying an NFL record for most 50-yarders in a season. Imagine that: Walsh is more accurate kicking an oblong ball with his instep through an elevated rectangle 50 yards away than some NBA superstars are shooting free throws.

For the season, Walsh has made 29 of 32 field goals and his long kickoffs have neutralized opponents' return games, giving the Vikings a stark advantage in field position. Since Week 5, no opponent has returned a kickoff past the 25.

Which raises a question: If Walsh is this good, why did he struggle as a senior at Georgia, and why didn't anyone else draft him before the Vikings grabbed him in the sixth round?

The answer is all about timing. Walsh and Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer both noted that Walsh sped up his kicking tempo as a senior. Neither blamed the Georgia coaches, but the prevailing view at Winter Park is that Walsh was asked to rush his kicks because Georgia was getting too many kicks blocked.

Georgia does not have one special teams coach, per se, dividing the responsibilities among many on the staff.

Asking a kicker to speed up his motion is like asking a pro golfer to change the tempo of his swing. Instead of being alarmed by Walsh's senior slump, Priefer was encouraged by Walsh's attitude about it.

"We knew he had great leg strength," Priefer said. "He had probably the best kickoff workout I've seen in 11 years going to the NFL combine. All the coaches were looking at each other like, 'You kidding me?' Then his field goal workout was good as well.

"He was so fast at Georgia. I don't know if they asked him to be fast or that was his tempo. And his plant foot, his jab step, was very inconsistent. But after working him out at Georgia, I thought this guy has got it. There is something about him, mentally, that is going to make him a pretty good pro, in my opinion."

Priefer dwelled more on Walsh's misses than his makes, hoping to gain insight into how Walsh handles "hard coaching."

"I put some heat on him," Priefer said. "I've seen guys blame their holder or their coach. I've heard, 'Coach, my holder was terrible!' This guy never made an excuse. He blamed himself for everything. He's a very genuine guy."

The cliché is that kickers are different, but Walsh comes across as pretty normal. Kluwe and Priefer say he's popular with teammates as much because of his down-to-earth nature and accountability as because of his success.

Best moment of his season?

"The game-winner in Week 1 was obviously pretty cool," Walsh said. "But each win just gets more and more awesome."

He's made 50-yarders look like chip shots. Kluwe and Priefer say that under the right conditions he could make one from 60 or longer.

"If we had a chance," Kluwe said, "I think we could break the NFL record."

The record is 63 yards. "Legolas" might beat that with ease.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 8 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 Top 2nd Inning
Minnesota 1
New York 19 2nd Qtr 11:18
Indiana 32
Phoenix 22 2nd Qtr 10:01
Orlando 29
Cleveland 6:30 PM
Toronto
Utah 6:30 PM
Boston
Charlotte 6:30 PM
Brooklyn
Denver 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Detroit 7:00 PM
New Orleans
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Miami
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Memphis 7:00 PM
Houston
Sacramento 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
Golden State
Portland 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Winnipeg
NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Detroit
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
Colorado
Montreal 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 54 2nd Half 5:01
UNC-Asheville 63
Ohio State 50 2nd Half 10:48
Penn State 42
Maine 16 1st Half 3:49
Albany 36
Duquesne 22 1st Half 4:23
Fordham 32
George Washington 23 1st Half 3:47
George Mason 24
Tennessee 26 1st Half 3:11
LSU 26
Notre Dame 34 1st Half 3:51
Louisville 27
SE Missouri St 30 1st Half 1:38
Morehead State 34
St Francis-PA 21 1st Half 3:33
Mount St Marys 22
Hartford 20 1st Half 3:18
New Hampshire 26
Wagner 28 1st Half 0:50
Robert Morris 39
Long Island 20 1st Half 3:32
St Francis-NY 27
La Salle 17 1st Half 4:00
Saint Josephs 21
Providence 21 1st Half 3:41
Seton Hall 34
UCF 15 1st Half 5:23
South Florida 37
Binghamton 23 1st Half 2:07
Stony Brook 22
UMBC 14 1st Half 1:26
Vermont 30
Sacred Heart 36 1st Half 3:07
Bryant 26
Richmond 6:30 PM
Massachusetts
Wake Forest 7:00 PM
Duke
Purdue 7:00 PM
Michigan State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Pittsburgh
St Bonaventure 7:00 PM
Saint Louis
New Mexico St 7:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Houston 7:00 PM
Tulane
Howard 7:00 PM
NJIT
SIU Edwardsville 8:00 PM
Eastern Ill
St Johns 8:00 PM
Marquette
TCU 8:00 PM
Oklahoma State
Cincinnati 8:00 PM
Tulsa
USC 8:00 PM
UCLA
Miss State 8:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Utah State 8:00 PM
Wyoming
Air Force 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Nebraska 9:00 PM
Illinois
Colorado State 9:00 PM
Nevada
Boise State 9:00 PM
San Jose St
San Diego St 10:00 PM
UNLV
Oregon 10:00 PM
Oregon State
UC Santa Barbara 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 48 2nd Half 4:39
Indiana 55
Clemson 30 2nd Half 17:57
Georgia Tech 45
Davidson 25 1st Half 4:17
La Salle 27
Loyola-Maryland 15 1st Half 2:49
Lafayette 22
Boston U 22 1st Half 3:30
Colgate 19
Coll of Charleston 21 1st Half 4:36
James Madison 42
Delaware 29 1st Half 5:25
Elon 21
Drexel 24 1st Half 3:12
Northeastern 14
Hofstra 27 1st Half 6:44
UNC-Wilmington 28
Towson 21 1st Half 3:50
William & Mary 31
Miami-Ohio 19 1st Half 3:24
Akron 22
Ball State 30 1st Half 4:31
Central Michigan 22
Buffalo 15 1st Half 5:00
Bowling Green 15
Western Mich 22 1st Half 3:43
Eastern Michigan 24
Ohio U 28 1st Half 2:12
Kent State 22
Youngstown St 35 1st Half 1:57
Cleveland State 29
Illinois-Chicago 13 1st Half 2:48
Wright State 37
Alabama 5 1st Half 18:00
Vanderbilt 2
Detroit 7:00 PM
Milwaukee
Purdue 7:25 PM
Wisconsin
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close