Vikings kicker Greg Joseph had, by most standards, a decent year in 2021. He made 86.8% of his field goals, better than league average (85.1) and tied for the third-most makes of 50-plus yards (seven). On the down side, he had some high-profile misses (including a game-decider against the Cardinals) and also missed four extra points.
Reflexively, though, Vikings fans tend to hold their breath when it comes to kickers and their kicks. The scars are plentiful and in easy-to-see places. You'd be a little jaded, too, if you watched a kicker make every kick all season ... except the one that was going to virtually guarantee a trip to the Super Bowl.
Those two factors — Joseph's fine-but-not-great 2021 and the wounds of the past — caused me to pay more attention Monday to a media availability with new Vikings special teams coordinator Matt Daniels. In addition to displaying a ton of energy and passion for the job and what it entails, Daniels said this when asked about Joseph:
"I'll put it on record right now and say I firmly believe Greg Joseph will have the best year of his career this year. I'll put it out there right now. I'm sure of it," Daniels said, adding: "You can just tell the process and approach he's taking on every individual kick, you can just tell he's really dialed in. I'm excited for Greg, and I'm thrilled to have him as my kicker."
Now, this could just be Daniels instilling a jolt of confidence in Joseph — something that can be key for kickers and which previous Vikings kickers might not have experienced as much under head coach Mike Zimmer.
While Daniels did back it up by saying Joseph has made 33 of 35 attempts so far in camp, it's not a huge reach to think Joseph will have his best year ever considering 2021 was just his second season as an NFL kicker and it left room for improvement.
But if you witnessed Gary Anderson vs. the Falcons in the 1998 NFC title game, or Blair Walsh vs. Seattle in the 2015 playoffs or watched the kicking carousel of recent years, you might want to punch (or kick) a wall with the angry notion that Daniels just jinxed things.
We don't talk about kickers like that around here, Matt. We just close our eyes and hope.
I don't know. The Daniels way is probably healthier. Expect the best and actively promote it it. Build a bridge to past trauma but only with the express purpose of burning it down and leaving all the ashes behind.
As long as there is evidence to believe something will go right, it's counterproductive to always focus on what could go wrong.
But if you're not quite there yet, tuck that Daniels quote away for a later date and revisit it when the time is right.