Even though the Minnesota Vikings didn’t win in Week 7, we gave out a Game Ball, largely because I want to make this an every week sort of thing. Well, the Vikings lost again in Week 8, and we’re going to give out a Game Ball again.
Well, I’m going to give out a Game Ball because, quite frankly, there aren’t enough candidates from the Crapfest in Chi-Town to merit putting together an actual vote. So, in light of this, I’m going to give it to the only guy who actually did his job in Chicago (as Ted pointed out in the Stock Market Report), and a guy that deserves a bit of recognition for what he’s done this season.
To say that Jeff Locke had a bit of a rough start to his Vikings’ career would be an understatement. In his first three years since joining the Vikings, he was consistently ranked among the worst punters in the league, whether it was actual statistical categories or rankings from sites like Pro Football Focus. Locke is now in the final year of his rookie contract, and though many fans. . .myself included. . .were screaming for the Vikings to bring in competition during the off-season, the Vikings stated publicly that they were confident in Locke’s ability to do the job.
Turns out that they were right. Against the Bears, Locke was called on to punt seven times, and averaged 44.3 yards/punt. He placed three of those punts inside the 20-yard line, and was a mistimed jump by Trae Waynes from having a fourth. One of those was a 71-yard blast that momentarily flipped the field position after a bad offensive series for the Vikings. In a game that featured plenty of players being out of position or not giving a whole lot of effort, Locke was solid, and it’s been part of a solid season for him thus far.
For the season, Locke has put up a net average of exactly 40 yards/punt. Of his 39 punts this season, only 11 of them have been returned, and he’s dropped 18 punts inside the 20-yard line while only having three touchbacks.
Congratulations to Jeff Locke on being our Game Ball recipient for Week 8 of the season for the Vikings. With all due respect to Locke, hopefully next week’s game will open up some more options for us to discuss on this one.
Week 1 Winner: Eric Kendricks, LB
Week 2 Winner: Sam Bradford, QB
Week 3 Winner: Everson Griffen, DE
Week 4 Winner: Xavier Rhodes, CB
Week 5 Winner: Adam Thielen, WR
Week 6 Winner: None (bye week)
Week 7 Winner: Xavier Rhodes, CB