When do kicking struggles under Mike Zimmer stop being a coincidence?

(Photo by Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) Mike Zimmer
(Photo by Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) Mike Zimmer /

Do the Minnesota Vikings have bad luck with kickers or is it something else?

Unfortunately for fans of the Minnesota Vikings, Dan Bailey’s awful kicking performance during Sunday’s Week 14 loss is something that is no longer surprising for their favorite NFL franchise. This has been especially true since Mike Zimmer was hired to be the Vikings head coach in 2014.

Following the latest poor kicking display this past weekend, is it fair to wonder how much Zimmer has played a part in Minnesota’s lack of success when it comes to making field goals?

Sure he’s the head coach and he probably spends about five minutes of his preparation each week on special teams, but there has to be some sort of explanation for why these kicking problems have become more frequent for the Vikings during the last seven seasons.

Does Mike Zimmer deserve blame for the Minnesota Vikings kicking failures?

During Zimmer’s tenure with Minnesota (since 2014), the team’s kickers have made just 81.1 percent of their field goal attempts. That is a much lower conversion rate than what the Vikings had under their two previous head coaches.

With Leslie Frazier as their head coach from 2011 to 2013, Minnesota made 86.4 percent of their field goal attempts, and then from 2006 to 2010 with Brad Childress in charge, the team made 87.6 of their field-goal tries.

As poorly as Vikings kickers have performed under Zimmer, they’ve still converted field goals at a higher rate than when Mike Tice (76.3 percent) and Dennis Green (79.8 percent) each had their stints as the team’s head coach.

Now, there were plenty of factors that played a part in these percentages turning out the way they did. The number of kickers used should certainly be viewed as a large factor.

Bailey is currently Minnesota’s fourth kicker since Zimmer arrived in 2014. The Vikings only had two kickers during Frazier’s tenure and one under Childress. Meanwhile, Minnesota went through five kickers during Tice’s time as the team’s head coach and the Vikings also had five when Green was in charge.

Should the demeanor of each head coach also be considered as an important factor? It could potentially play a part, but at the end of the day, the kicker has their own responsibility to get the job done, regardless of the circumstances they’re presented with.

By now, Bailey should be used to Zimmer’s blunt comments and it would be pretty surprising if Minnesota’s current kicker is struggling because of something the team’s head coach said.

Instead, Bailey’s struggles during the last two weeks most likely have to do with his kicking mechanics and him overcompensating to try and quickly fix a problem. If he’s going to turn things around, it’s going to be because of him and not because of Zimmer being nicer to him or something like that.

Unfortunately for the Vikings, they don’t really have a ton of options if Bailey doesn’t get his problems fixed before next week. Minnesota is in the middle of a playoff race and with only three games left in the season, it’s not like there are All-Pro kickers just sitting around and waiting for an opportunity this late in the year.

As strange as it may sound, Bailey is still probably the Vikings’ best option as their kicker for the remainder of the season. How long he sticks around past this year will be up to Minnesota. But for now, the Vikings will just have to hope he can get things figured out sooner than later so that they can earn a spot in the playoffs.