Minnesota Vikings: Pondering The Punting Problem
By Adam Carlson
The Minnesota Vikings were able to address many of their problems during free agency and the 2015 NFL Draft, but one spot that was overlooked was the punter. Competition was brought in for the longsnapper job and Blair Walsh seems to be holding down the kicking job, but after a disappointing year, incumbent punter Jeff Locke seems to have no obstacles between him and the starting job this year.
But should the Vikings have put forth some effort to put some heat on Jeff Locke, who has been largely unimpressive during his time as a punter for Minnesota ever since they invested a fifth round pick in him during the 2013 NFL Draft?
To put things in perspective, here are Jeff Locke’s numbers during the 2014 NFL season:
Aug 8, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings punter Jeff Locke (18) punts during the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Raiders 10-6. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Punts: 75 (14th in the NFL)
As you can see from those numbers, Locke is currently a below-average punter in the NFL. There were hopes that he could step in and replace former punter Chris Kluwe, who was also struggling at the time of his release as well as being engaged in legal issues surrounding the team’s practices and locker room activities.
While the Vikings did play outdoors last year, there wasn’t a significant change in Locke’s numbers from the his rookie season to 2014. Each number stayed very close to the ones listed above except that Jeff Locke had twice as many of his punts blocked (2013 – 3, 2014 – 6).
There is some hope that these numbers could improve if Locke has a better chemistry with former UCLA teammate Kevin McDermott, who the Minnesota Vikings brought in as competition for the aging Cullen Loeffler. It is also possible that he could get better once the team moves into U.S. Bank Stadium next season.
What do you guys think? Should competition have been brought in for the Minnesota Vikings punting job? Or should Jeff Locke get at least one more season as the team’s starter before the team starts putting some heat on him? Let me know what you guys think in the comments below.
Next: Minnesota Vikings 2015 Game By Game Previews
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