Minnesota Vikings' special teams coach Mike Priefer - Minnesota Vikings Public Relations Department
Kyle talked about the amazing season that rookie kicker Blair Walsh is having thus far in his last story. The season that Walsh is putting together is one of the many reasons that a good deal of credit for the Minnesota Vikings' turnaround this season has to go to special teams coach Mike Priefer.
We haven't heard much about Priefer this season, save for last week when he said he was kind of sick of punter Chris Kluwe being enamored with too many things outside of football, in his opinion. Then again, say what you will about Kluwe this season, but he does have the best net punting average of his career thus far in 2012 at 39.7 yards/punt.
Priefer also saw something in Blair Walsh's mechanics that he thought he could fix, and urged the Vikings to select him in the sixth round of this year's draft. Apparently the issue got fixed, as Walsh is 29-of-32 on field goals this season, and has tied the NFL record for most field goals in a season over 50 yards with eight. He has also produced touchbacks on 47 of his 73 kickoffs in 2012.
There's one truly crazy stat that the folks from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune posted today that shows the vast improvement of the Vikings' special teams from just a couple of years ago. On October 7, the Vikings allowed Tennessee Titans punt returner (and former Viking) Darius Reynaud to return a kickoff 30 yards to the 32-yard line. That was back in Week 5.
Since that return, the Minnesota Vikings have not allowed a kick returner to return the ball past the 25-yard line. That's a pretty incredible statistic, and shows the commitment that the Vikings have made to special teams after having one of the worst overall special teams units in the NFL just a few seasons ago.
Even with the Vikings new commitment to special teams from a personnel standpoint, they still need someone to get them pointed in the right directing, and Mike Priefer has done just that. Kudos to him for putting together and guiding one of the better special teams units in the National Football League for the 2012 NFL season.