Okay, I was wrong. When I said yesterday that the game against the 49ers wouldn’t be a test of anything at all, I was wrong. I admit it. It was a test for kicker Aaron Elling, and he failed.
I feel for the guy; even moreso as he sounds like a stand-up guy, which the Strib’s Mark Craig pionted out in his piece today by saying that "Elling didn’t duck any question after the game." That’s getting rarer and rarer these days. Still, the guy is having problems and there’s no reason they need to be our problems.
Mike Tice didn’t want to answer questions about his inaccurate kicker after the game but he had to acknowlege that Elling was an issue, saying "we can’t continue to go down this vein." Or keep opening that vein. Tice voiced his annoyance with Elling but did pull his punches. VikingUpdate appeared to be charitable by appending a question mark to their Elling on the bubble headline cause I’dve figured that after that performance, Elling was a sure-fire goner. Again, I’m wrong because ESPN has reported that Tice is going to give the guy another chance:
"If he comes back and nails his kickoffs and hits his PATs, then I’m just chalking (Friday’s performance) up as, he had a bad week," Tice said.
[You can throw your hands up now.]
It is time for Tice to look in the mirror and face the fact that he has a blind spot when it comes to evaluating kicking talent. It’s okay–Dennis Green‘s blind spot was much more damaging; he couldn’t evaluate defensive talent–just recognize the fault and address it. By finding a replacement for Elling.
The Vikings do have rookie kicker Dan Orner on the roster who has kicked a 46-yarder. But apparently, the coaches aren’t convinced in his leg-strength for kickoffs. But it’s not like Elling could possibly be any better; one of his kickoffs landed at the twenty on Friday.
It was nice to see the Vikings completely dominating the 49ers. Not that it wasn’t expected but so often in the past we’ve seen the team struggle against teams they should beat. It has also been a long time since I’ve seen the Vikings look so crisp from the opening kickoff. If they play that way against poorer teams in the regular season, we’ll be just fine.
Looks like Tice was prescient by insisting on holding on to all his running backs when Ricky Williams left the Dolphins because it now appears that Michael Bennett‘s sprained kneee is worse than originally thought and he’ll be out from one to three weeks. It is enormously reassuring in retrospect that Mewelde Moore has looked so good this preseason.