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Vikings Kicker Looks to Prove His Mettle


Sep 19, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) celebrates and Minnesota Vikings kicker Greg Joseph (1) reacts after missing a potential game winning field goal against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Joseph is entering his second season with the Vikings, the only time in his career that he has been the starting kicker for a team in back-to-back seasons. It’s been a winding road for the South African who now finds himself in a place where he could stick for a while. Joseph turned in a productive and consistent season as the Vikings kicker and signed a contract extension ahead of the 2022 season. 

So, it seemed counterintuitive when the Vikings brought in rookie free agent Gabe Brkic to compete with Joseph during offseason OTAs. Brkic had a successful collegiate career at Oklahoma and was definitely deserving of an NFL audition. But to bring him to a team with a solid kicker who had already signed an extension with the team was odd.

Vikings kicking woes are almost as Minnesotan as lakes and long winters. Vikings fans don’t need to be reminded of the two most infamous “wide lefts” in franchise history, courtesy of Gary Anderson and Blair Walsh. There was Daniel Carlson missing two OT kicks in Lambeau in the second week of the 2018 season that ended his brief Vikings career. Dan Bailey’s 0-4 in a pivotal Week 14 loss to Tampa Bay all but cemented the Vikings fate in 2020. 

For a franchise that has dealt with such pain and is moving into a pivotal season marked with many changes, having a solid placekicker provides one piece of necessary stability. Why fix something that isn’t broken?

Greg Joseph
Minnesota Vikings kicker Greg Joseph. © Sam Greene via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

Maybe there was some psychological genius that Minnesota was trying to tap into by bringing Brkic in. For one of the most scrutinized, pressure-packed positions on a 53-man roster, mental toughness is a prerequisite. By forcing Joseph, who has experienced short-term success but remains relatively unproven, to compete with a former All-Big 12 kicker, the Vikings may have been looking to see how strong he was between the ears. Regardless of the outcome of the competition, the Vikings were going to see which kicker had what it takes mentally and physically to get the job done. 

In 2021, Joseph showed his mental toughness by withstanding the vitriol and scrutiny after missing a Week 2 game-winning kick by turning in his strong season. He finished with the 5th-most made FGs in the league by season’s end. Joseph shut out a negative narrative and just went about his work.

He showed that mettle again this spring, as he kept his job, and the Vikings sent Brkic packing. Minnesota will need no. 1 to keep that focus and stay strong upstairs. For a team that played in 14 one-score games a year ago, every field goal and point after will be crucial. 

Will is a husband, father of two, and a lifelong Minnesotan. He earned an undergraduate degree in Economics (just like Kwesi Adofo-Mensah). He became a Vikings fan in 2009 when Brett Favre stole his heart. Will’s favorite pastimes are water skiing, Minnesota sports, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Follow him on Twitter (@willbadlose) and find his other sports content at Twins Daily and his very own Bad Loser Blog.

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