The tears have dried, the livers have been scarred, and the holes in the drywall have all been repaired.
Week one is now just a painful memory for the majority of Minnesota; the type of memory that flashes back to jog you awake five years from now just as you’re about to fall asleep.
The tilt this past Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium was nothing short of embarrassing for the Vikings, with the team putting up a lackluster performance and getting shredded by a seemingly rejuvenated Aaron Rodgers in the process.
Kirk Cousins and the rest of the Vikings offense showed glimmers of hope; although the most hopeful moments — post opening drive — seemed to come when the game was clearly out of reach in the second half.
I’ve been trying my best to find hope for the season — any shred of positivity to stop the endless “Vikings are going to be 6-10” song regurgitating in my thoughts— and I think I may have found something in the most unlikely of places: The kicking game.
Week one was rough for kickers. And I mean rough.
League wide, there were a total of 19 missed field goals and five missed extra points, with — just as everyone expected — the Vikings/Packers game being the only contest without a missed kick.
For reference, week one of 2019 only saw nine missed field goals and three missed extra points.
So what’s with the 50% increase in missed kicks?
49ers kicker Robby Gould appeared on “Good Morning Football” a few weeks ago and preemptively addressed that very question.
Gould said, “I think this year, stadiums will definitely be different from a wind perspective, because the fans usually in most stadiums will knock down the wind.
When you have a sold-out stadium, that means there’s roughly 75,000 fans in the building who are all knocking down the wind, which makes life easier for a kicker. With zero fans in the stadium, winds will be swirling more, which is going to make longer kicks difficult on windy days.”
So there we have it: a lack of fans in stadiums means more windy and unpredictable conditions for kickers week to week.
But what exactly does this have to do with the Vikings? Well, that means that Dan Bailey will potentially be the most reliable player on the team this year.
Allow me to explain.
During the course of the 2020 NFL Season, the Vikings will play 75% of their games within the confines of indoor stadiums.
This is a beautiful bit of information for Vikings fans because that means a lack of outdoor kicking will result in Dan Bailey being one of the most accurate kickers in the league this year. And I can say that with complete certainty because Dan Bailey is incredibly accurate when playing indoors.
Since joining the Vikings, we have seen Dr. Dan Jekyll in 2019 when he finished fourth league wide in field goal accuracy, and we have seen Bailey Hyde in 2018 when he finished second to last in field goal accuracy.
Despite his atrocious performance in 2018, Bailey has been absolutely magnificent during indoors games with the team.
Over the past two years, when kicking in indoor stadiums, Bailey has made 51/52 extra points (98%) and 27/31 field goals (87%).
Combining the two stats, of course, means he has made 78/83 indoor kicks over the past two years, good for a blistering 94% kicking accuracy.
I know fans want the flashy performances. They want the Cousins deep passes to Theilen, the Dalvin Cook 40-yard runs, the momentum-shifting Danielle Hunter sacks.
But sometimes, especially in regards to a team with so many question marks after week one, we need to keep things simple and look forward to the “boring” players who can come in time and time again and reliably do their job.
Of course I am privy to the fact that I may have just jinxed Dan Bailey, dooming him to another 2018-esque performance, so I’ll leave you with the infamous Jon Gruden quote:
“Knock on wood if you’re with me.”