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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings working to solve the sinking onside kick rate

By Matthew Coller

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EAGAN, Minn. — In the past, the Minnesota Vikings would have had about a one-in-six chance when they lined up for an onside kick at Soldier Field down 25-20 in the final seconds with no timeouts. But changes to the rules have caused the success rate to drop severely this season to just eight percent this year. In 2017 teams went 13-for-55 (23 percent).

Minnesota Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer said the team has studied the few kicks that have worked.

“We’ll continue to evolve and continue to work on the different types of kicks that are going to be successful, some teams already have, we’ve already tried,” Priefer said. “Whether it’s in practice getting them ready for games. I think you need to have the right type of kick because there is no running start, they already have eight in the box, they’re going to bring up ten in that set up zone, like most teams did anyway on hands team. I think without the running start it makes it much more difficult.”

The new rules do not allow teams to overload to the left or right of the kicker — formally called the “see-saw” formation. Now they must have five players on each side now and they can’t be bunched up or, as Priefer mentioned, get a running start anymore.

Through the years teams have tried all sorts of gimmicks to succeed on onside kicks, from having the kicker run at the ball in one direction and then turn and kick the other way to laying the ball down on the tee to slamming it into the ground to create a pop-up.

“Part of my job is to be creative whether it’s a punt fake, field goal fake, a creative way to take advantage of what a team is doing with their hands team, or whatever the case maybe,” Priefer said. “We try not to go into the game and have the same exact onside kick, the same exact same punt fake, the exact same field goal fake, we try to tweak it and make it hopefully be successful against the opponent that we’re facing. I think that’s what most good teams do and that’s what we try to do every week.”

There have been creative options proposed to get rid of the onside kick, which Priefer called an “exciting play,” such as giving the scoring team the option of a fourth-and-20 play to keep the ball or allowing the return team to only have so many players in the “box” area. The Vikings special teams coach doesn’t want to see that.

“I think the new kickoff, kickoff return rules have been very beneficial for our game,” Priefer said. “I think the numbers, I haven’t seen them, but I’ve heard the concussion numbers are way down, so we’re going in the right direction which is a good thing for our players.”

One of the staples of the NFL is that coaches find ways to adjust, just as we’ve seen the crazy offensive numbers of the early season fade throughout the year with defensive adaptations. Priefer hopes that’s the case with the onside kick.

“I think the onside kick success rate will go up a little bit as we get more creative with the types of kicks that we use,” he said.

Of course, sometimes all you need is a break in concentration like the Bears got against the Giants earlier this year.

Bears recover the onside kick!

: FOX #DaBears pic.twitter.com/FpeHTDhwiw

— NFL (@NFL) December 2, 2018

The post Vikings working to solve the sinking onside kick rate appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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