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A theory on what went wrong with Blair Walsh on Sunday

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Blair Walsh misses

I’ll level with you, I sat in my living room with a beer in my hand as the first half rolled by. The first attempt happens, 44 yards out. Tyler Ott has a good snap, Jon Ryan plants the ball correctly, and Blair Walsh drills it left. “Uh oh.” I mutter. “Isn’t that the same side he missed from earlier in the year?” Of course as Walsh misses my Twitter messages spike, mostly from other Field Gulls writers ribbing me. I tell myself it’s fine. That’s just two misses all year. Sure, it drops him to about 85% conversions, but that’s league average and about his career average.

And besides, it’s the Redskins. The Seahawks are totally going to win this game. Totally, I certainly was never worried.

The second attempt comes, 39 yards, same side of the field, a chance for Walsh to redeem himself. And he misses it the exact same way. I am now in full on sitting up on the couch mode. “Don’t panic, it’s his first game missing two from inside 50 yards. It’s a fluke.”

Third attempt coming up, 49 yards. Walsh, before today, was good over 80% of the time. Today? Another miss. My feelings when I thought about writing this article were summed up perfectly by coach Carroll:

All around just a really rough day for Blair Walsh. But of course, you don’t need to come here to learn that. The real question is why?

Previous to today, Walsh’s season long was 49 yards. I wanted to go “way back” in time to Week 5 versus the Los Angeles Rams.

Blair Walsh FG from 48 yards
Blair Walsh FG from 49 yards

In both of these attempts, Walsh kicks with his plant foot very close to the ball. But, his center of mass is aligned and we see him relatively straight in the hips. He’s lined up properly on the kick and makes them relatively easily. For additional comparison, here’s Kai Forbath’s kicking form. Forbath tends to kick with his plant foot more to the outside than Walsh but his body, like Walsh’s, is generally in a straight line..

Kai Forbath example kick

Now, I won’t torture you with the full video of today’s three misses. But look at his plant foot and body angle today.

Attempt 1, 44 yards
Attempt 2, 39 yards
Attempt 3, 49 yards

In the second and third attempt especially, it appears as though Walsh’s body angle is altered from normal. His upper body is more upright, and his plant foot seems off. In attempt one his plant foot isn’t fully settled when he begins the process of the kick, perhaps indicating a slip given the wet conditions. There was a good discussion between Field Gulls writer John Gilbert and I on what exactly went wrong here.

On the first kick, if Walsh did slip, he could be over correcting in the next two. This theory seems to have some merit based on how much different his arm position is and how much more upright he’s keeping his torso. Plus, it’s not like Walsh got the chance to kick outdoors in the rain a lot during his time in the NFC North, a must for any prospective Seattle kicker. Long story short? Gilbert and I think his plant foot slipped on attempt one and he got in his own head and so concerned with missing that he tensed up and botched the next two.

And despite practicing during the half, Walsh was not called on for the remainder of the game.

I’ll leave you here to discuss in the comments and give feedback on your own theories.

Do you think Walsh has the yips? Is Walsh not used to kicking in the rain? Of course, I expect a lot of you to say something like “cut him.” But I would caution you; Who out there as a free agent is better? I don’t think there is an obvious answer here.

Additionally, Seattle has had a kicker miss three in a game before, and they didn’t exactly fire him right away. Maybe it isn’t the time to overreact, but the Vikings moved on from Walsh when he was 12 of 16 after nine games, and the Seahawks now find themselves in very similar territory.

Meanwhile, my crow is ready and I shall go eat it before it becomes much colder.