Placekicker. A position on the football team that is synonymous with heartbreak when it comes to the Minnesota Vikings.
Big game misses don’t come higher profile than those of Gary Anderson and Blair Walsh — playoff heartbreak that almost defines the Vikings as a franchise. More recently, we’ve seen a rookie Daniel Carlson miss a game-winner against the Packers and subsequently be ejected from Minnesota — only to become a reliable kicker for the Raiders.
Then Dan Bailey, a reliable veteran kicker of many years, came and imploded in his third season with the Vikings. In Week 2 of last season, the current Vikings kicker seemed to be going down the same road when he missed a game-winning walk-off field goal against the Arizona Cardinals. However, Greg Joseph bounced back from that blow and is shaping up for a big season in 2022.
The South African did enough to warrant his return during his first season as Vikings kicker this year. Despite that early blow, he had a solid first season, making 32 of his 37 field goal attempts with a long of 55 yards. He also made 32 of his 36 extra-point attempts. The special teams unit showed improvement last season under Ryan Ficken. After a major coaching shakeup this offseason, it will be Matt Daniels running things on special teams in 2022.
Daniels has been excited by what he’s seen from Joseph so far in camp, publicly praising his kicker and predicting him to have “the best year of his career.” Praise for a Vikings kicker isn’t something Vikings fans are used to hearing. The mere mention of kickers will cause chatter of curses amongst the Vikings fanbase. I’m not the superstitious type, but a reliable kicker who stays reliable year after year is something the Vikings crave after years of inconsistency.
With all the talk of an impressive camp and a public show of confidence from his coach, Joseph turned up to training on Wednesday and drilled 8 out of 8 field goal attempts, including one from 58 yards with room to spare.
Joseph’s field goal percentage of 86.8% put him in the middle of the pack last season.
After a horror season from Bailey the year before, that was a solid improvement for the Vikings. The aim should be to get that above 90% this season. He has shown that he has “the leg” to hit the long-distance kicks. Now he needs to deliver a little more consistency to take him to the next level. So far in camp, he looks like he is heading in the right direction. The proof will come when the season starts, and he steps up for his first pressure kick. This year could very well be a big season for Greg Joseph.