The cry has gone forth from Minnesota and Cleveland: Can anybody here kick a football?
Week 2 was particularly ugly for two men, who both came up short with their games on the line, earning Internet scorn, prompting fan anger, and, ultimately, costing them their jobs. As of Monday afternoon, Daniel Carlson and Zane Gonzalez are both out. Come on down, Dan Bailey and Greg Joseph.
For the Vikings, Carlson had the chance to win Sunday’s overtime game in Green Bay and spoil Aaron Rodgers’s one-legged heroics. And like Blair Walsh, a former Vikings kicker who came up empty during a January 2016 playoff game, Carlson could not deliver on a 35-yard attempt as time expired. That was one of two misses in overtime (the other was a 49-yarder); the 23-year-old rookie out of Auburn missed three in a row on the day. Carlson’s coach hinted strongly that the team might look for a replacement this week, and that happened on Monday, according to NFL Network reporters, when the team waived Carlson and signed Bailey, the former Dallas Cowboys kicker who had been waiting for the right opportunity.
“You know what? Guys are supposed to do their jobs,” Coach Mike Zimmer said Sunday, via the Star Tribune. “I believed that [Carlson] was going to make it. They said, ‘Put it in the middle of the field.’ We put it smack dead in the middle of the field, and every day in practice, he drills them. That’s what’s disappointing.”
Zimmer’s comments Monday were even more cutting.
The Browns made a change, too, after Gonzalez was wide left on a 52-yard field goal attempt with eight seconds left in a 21-18 loss to the Saints in New Orleans. He also missed another field goal, as well as the extra point on the touchdown that tied the score at 18-18 and another extra point along the way.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday that Gonzalez has been kicking with a groin injury that will require an MRI. Early Monday afternoon, NFL Network reported that the Browns were signing Joseph, formerly of the Miami Dolphins, while there were multiple reports that Gonzalez would be waived.
Sunday’s performance came a week after Gonzalez’s field goal attempt in overtime was blocked in a 21-21 tie with the Steelers. How bad was it this time? The Saints kicker, Wil Lutz, gave him a consoling pat after the game.
Gonzalez admitted that he was “cussing myself out in my head” on Sunday.
“Really upset about it. But like I said, it’s on me 100 percent,” he said (via ESPN). “And I can’t be too mad at myself. … I can’t blame it on nobody else. It sucks that we were so close to that win and it’s been so long, and I just let everybody down.”
After the game, Lutz tweeted: “At the end of the day it’s not ‘just a game’ to us, this is our livelihood. Our careers rely on personal performance, as does everyone else’s. I will never pull for someone to fail, as I know I will too. I hope to see nothing more than Zane have an amazing career going forward.”
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