While the Minnesota Vikings impressive 9-2 record is as magnificent as it is unforeseen, the team’s kicking has flat-out been terrible.
For about seven seasons — since Blair Walsh missed a playoff-round-advancing field goal in 2015 — Minnesota’s kicking game has encountered ups and downs, usually ending with a kicker bottoming out and leaving the team.
And masked by the NFL’s second-best record, the Vikings kicking in 2022 is the team’s dark underbelly.
Through 11 games, the Vikings rank 29th in field goal conversion percentage and 32nd in extra points conversion percentage. Those marks are awful, and there is no sugarcoating the maladies with yeah-buts.
Kicker Greg Joseph is connecting on field goals 76.1% of the time. The only teams more sinful in the metric are the Pittsburgh Steelers (76.0%) and Kansas City Chiefs (73.6%). Put bluntly, Joseph can hit the intermediate field goals but doesn’t have a prayer at 50 yards or beyond. He’s hit 15 out of 15 field goals from less than 50 yards and is 1 for 6 from 50+.
Perhaps Joseph can change the dialogue, but only six games remain in the regular season.
For extra points, there is no saving grace. Joseph has missed five extra points — yes, five — and the closest offenders behind are Cairo Santos (three) and Jason Sanders (three). The Vikings have scored 31 touchdowns in 2022, meaning Joseph misses an extra point every six scores. It’s inexcusable.
Minnesota seems committed to Joseph, so there is no real contingency plan for the man’s woes nor any kickers on the practice squad. General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could explore the free-agent wire for a replacement, but none of the men are savvy, misunderstood veterans awaiting another chance. They’re all Joseph-like journeymen.
The Vikings have “gotten away with it” amid the 9-2 start, but the kicking follies may disrupt playoff plans in January or February. But thankfully, in a cynical way, Vikings fans would pretty much expect that anyway.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).