This is the first of a season series on kicking in the NFL and Blair Walsh’s overall performance. As the season progresses, I will have larger samples to pull from and therefore more insightful commentary on both his overall performance and his performance relative to the league.
The NFL regular season is underway and new Seattle Seahawks’ kicker Blair Walsh is off to a flying start. Walsh, responsible for all of the Seahawks points on Sunday, was perfect against the Green Bay Packers. Despite coming off an admittedly frustrating loss, there are a some really good aspects to focus on, particularly in Seattle’s kicking game.
Kick 1 for Walsh comes 33 yards out.
The ball is snapped, Jon Ryan immediately plants it with minimal rotation, laces out. Walsh for his part is kicking from the left hash, as most right leg dominant kickers prefer, with about a 10 MPH wind to his back. Additionally this kick is at 0:04 remaining in the 2nd. This kick is textbook execution landing in the upper third, centered between the uprights. His 21 yard try is very similar in execution.
The third and final kick by Blair Walsh is from 41 yards out. Again the snap is level, Ryan plants the ball immediately, but the kick goes slightly left as number 31 of Green Bay, Davon House, gets some penetration during the kick. While the kick goes slightly left it is still mostly centered.
Walsh also averaged 65 yards per kickoff on Sunday and did not allow a return, overall a fantastic showing for the Seahawks’ kicker. So how does Walsh stack up versus the rest of the league so far?
Week 1 league average for field goals, excluding the Monday night games not yet played as of this writing, was an overall 88.9%. Of the 5 total field goals missed, three came from the 30-39 yard category, which accounted for 28.9% of all attempts, the second most “popular” category.
PATs for week one currently sit at 93.4%, I excitedly await the opportunity to look at Blair’s ability to kick from this range in 2017, but sadly it will have to wait.
Overall, with 28 teams having played on Sunday the average NFL kicker has attempted 1.6 field goals, made 1.4 of them; attempted 1.6 PATs, made 1.5 of them; and is responsible for 5.8 points. If there is another silver lining to notice, it’s that Blair, thus far, does not seem to be influenced in his kicking performance by the pressure of significant games based on match up, nor by lack of clock time or playing from behind. Whether this trend continues will have to wait farther into the season.
Until then, Blair keeps kicking them, I keep tracking them, and hopefully you enjoy reading about it.