One of the questions during a recent edition of “Blue 42” on “Brock and Salk” asked if kicker, right cornerback or another position is the biggest roster concern for the Seahawks after their offseason program.
ESPN.com’s Sheil Kapadia, filling in for Brock Huard, picked kicker. I agree with him.
The Seahawks are hoping Blair Walsh can revive a once-promising career that went south during the end of his time in Minnesota. It was very much a leap of faith when Seattle signed him to a one-year, low-cost deal in free agency to replace Stephen Hauschka, and it remains one.
The Seahawks’ media guidelines prohibit reporters from detailing what happened on the field during organized team activities and minicamp. Generally speaking, Walsh’s performance was inconsistent. Accuracy, not leg strength, was usually the issue. Granted, the handful of kicks he attempted in team periods during each practice that was open to the media represented only a fraction of what he’s shown the team this offseason. And some of those kicks were from from distances well beyond chip-shot range. Most were outdoors.
Walsh was by no means woefully inaccurate. But given his recent struggles, even a few misses are troubling in a way they wouldn’t necessarily be for a kicker with a more consistent track record.
None of that is to say that Walsh can’t or won’t regain his earlier form. Place-kickers are prone to volatility. Walsh was a first-team All-Pro selection as a rookie in 2012 and a very good kicker for most of his first four seasons. Hauschka became one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history with Seattle after a nondescript start to his career. He’s third in career field-goal percentage (87.215 percent) even after his struggles last season (which were more with extra points).
Walsh wouldn’t be the first kicker to turn his career around. There’s just no certainty that he will. And right now, he’s the only kicker on Seattle’s roster. The team signed John Lunsford, following through on stated intentions to create a competition for the job, but he was waived. It would not be a surprise if Seattle added a kicker before training camp.
To put into perspective how important a reliable kicker is, consider this: Seattle has played 108 games, including playoffs, since Hauschka’s first season with the team in 2011. Twenty-three of them were decided by three points or fewer while 45 of them were decided by six points or fewer. Seattle’s records in those games: 11-11-1 and 22-22-1, respectively. How might the Seahawks have fared in those close games with a kicker less accurate than Hauschka?
The Seahawks have questions elsewhere on their roster, to be sure. The starters at right cornerback, strong-side linebacker, left guard and left tackle are all undetermined. But Seattle has options at all of those positions whereas Walsh is their only kicker at the moment. Given his recent struggles and what he showed over the offseason program, that’s cause for some concern.