11 2nd Ave N, Unit 103 | Sauk Rapids, MN 56379
Would you like to advertise?
One of the reasons the Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman combination has been so successful here in Minnesota is they are willing to admit when they have made a mistake. They address issues quickly and continue moving forward. This Daniel Carlson situation is a great example of that. Just five months ago, the Vikings traded two sixth-round picks to move up into the fifth round of this year’s draft to make Carlson the first kicker off the board and the highest-drafted kicker in Vikings history. However, there were warning signs this preseason that Carlson might not be ready for the big time, and it all culminated in his meltdown at Lambeau last Sunday.
At his press conference Monday, Zimmer called the decision to move on from Carlson pretty easy. “Did you see the game?” he said. This sort of attitude from their leader shows the Vikings players that everyone is going to be held responsible for their actions. I am positive the locker room stands behind this decision. If the Vikings had let this slide, it would have sent a clear message to the team’s players that it is acceptable for one guy to cost the other 52 guys a game. I am not Stephen Covey, but I am fairly certain that is not how you build trust or accountability in an organization – especially one where you only get 16 chances to win during the regular season and the impact from each game is huge. You cannot let a rookie kicker cost a team with Super Bowl aspirations a winnable rivalry game without repercussions, and to his credit, Mike Zimmer emphatically did not.
Another key component to this decision was the fact Dan Bailey, the second-most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history, was available as a free agent. The former Cowboys kicker has made 91.2 percent of his indoor field goal attempts in his career and has made 276 of 278 extra points. This guy is a legitimate stud, and he was only a free agent because Dallas woefully mismanaged their salary cap and had to move on from the costly veteran this summer. The addition of Bailey represents a massive upgrade for the Vikings and immediately corrects their placekicking issue, which would have been their Achilles heel all season if they had continued to roll with Carlson. Bailey reportedly turned down four other free agent offers since the start of the season because he was waiting for the right situation where he can play for a team with a chance for postseason success. If Bailey performs well, he might have found the perfect landing spot.
In related news, the Vikings also signed free agent wide receiver Aldrick Robinson to compete with Laquon Treadwell, Brandon Zylstra and Stacy Coley for snaps behind Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. This move sends a similar message to the teams third- through fifth-string wide receivers that Zimmer is not going to suffer much more ineptitude at those spots. Treadwell gift-wrapped a huge interception to Green Bay safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix deep in Vikings territory late in the fourth quarter that would have sealed the game for the Packers had the Vikings not made a huge defensive stand. I have a feeling former first-round pick Treadwell is on the thinnest of thin ice with Zimmer right now.
After this Sunday’s home game against Buffalo, the Vikings schedule is going to get nasty. The team has back-to-back road games against the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles in weeks four and five that are going to separate the wheat from the chaff at the top of the NFC standings. That tie at Green Bay is going to potentially loom large when playoff spots are decided at the end of the season, and the Vikings chose to own up to their mistakes and address the problematic spots on their roster before they became even bigger issues.
Vikings cut kicker Carlson, sign Bailey
In the aftermath of Sunday’s anticlimactic 29-29 tie with the Green Bay Packers, Mike Zimmer and the Vikings front office wasted no time in establishing a culture of accountability with their team. Rookie placekicker Daniel Carlson, who missed field goals of 48, 49 and 35 yards (including two potential game winners in overtime) was released, and veteran Dan Bailey was promptly signed to replace him.
By Andy Thayer