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

Boston - LP: A. Ranaudo 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: C. Morton 4
Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: U. Jimenez 8
Washington - WP: T. Roark 3 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: B. Colon 9
NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 6
Cincinnati - LP: J. Cueto 0 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 7
Chicago WSox - WP: E. Surkamp 7 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: K. Herrera 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 4 FINAL
Houston - LP: N. Tropeano 2
Detroit - LP: J. Nathan 3 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: G. Perkins 4
Milwaukee - WP: B. Kintzler 3 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: K. Siegrist 2
Los Angeles - LP: D. Haren 4 FINAL
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 10
San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: J. Collmenter 1
Seattle - WP: C. Smith 13 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: J. Grilli 2
Texas - WP: N. Tepesch 6 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Kazmir 3
Philadelphia - LP: A. Burnett 4 FINAL
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 5
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
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 Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you support Wednesday's decision to sideline Adrian Peterson again?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close