Lunchbreak: High-Tech Info Could Shape Special Teams

How much will technology one day play in assessing and improving special teams?

During the Sunday Night Football broadcast of the Vikings-Saints game last weekend, NBC partnered with TrackMan technology to debut new kicking statistics.

Tim Yotter of Viking Update pointed out that the tracking was restricted to kicks of 45-plus yards, so only Wil Lutz’s 52-yarder for New Orleans was featured. Yotter spoke with Vikings kicker Dan Bailey during the week and asked him about the use of technology in the kicking game.

“You could really get as creative as you wanted with that. It would be good data,” Bailey told Yotter. “You could kind of compile over time and understand exactly what kind of ball speed you need from certain distances. I would really just have to see it and have somewhat of a control – here’s the baseline stats – and have numbers to look at. Other than that, the sky is the limit with that stuff, honestly.”

The stats that NBC included in its telecast were ball speed on the kick, apex and how far the kick would have been “good from” – on Lutz’s 52-yard attempt, it would have been good from 58, according to the tools.

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Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer said the Vikings do some statistical analysis for special teams, but it might be more helpful in determining when to return a kickoff in the end zone and how deep it has to be to make the risk outweigh the potential reward. Some of those decisions are also based on the game situations.

“In terms of the technology part of it, I think the more data that comes out, the more I learn from it, especially in the offseason,” Priefer told Twin Cities media members during his podium session Thursday.

Yotter explained that the Vikings haven’t “applied measurements like ball speed and apex of the kick,” but they do chart kicking and punting during practices.

That data includes the distance of the kick, which hash mark, where the makes went through on the uprights and which side of the uprights the misses end up on.

“You can kind of over time look at that data – sometimes it’s just random – you could say the left hash at this range, maybe I need to work on that a little more next week,” Bailey told Yotter. “We definitely keep track of all that stuff – where we are on the field, obviously in games but definitely in practices, too. It gives you a good idea of what you need to work on or what you need to pay attention to. Sometimes, they just don’t go in and it’s not really anything to overanalyze.”

Vikings Kelly Kleine featured as part of ‘On Her Turf’ initiative

As part of the “On Her Turf” initiative powered by NBC Sports, women across the country are being featured for their role in sports.

Recently, Sunday Night Football tweeted out the video feature on Vikings College Scouting Coordinator Kelly Kleine. In the vignette, Kleine is interviewed about her specific position within the organization and what it means to be a woman holding that role in professional football.

“Being taken seriously is very, very important for women in the NFL because you have to come in here, and you do have to put your head down, you have to work hard, you have to prove that you are here to get your job done and to help this team win,” Kleine said. “And that’s all I want to do.”

Saturday fundraiser offers unique opportunity, benefits good cause

This Saturday at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, Vikings fans who purchase tickets for a unique fundraiser event will have the opportunity to tour the team’s facility and meet their favorite players.

Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune shared about the evening that will benefit “a cause close to the hearts of Leah and [Vikings Executive Vice President of Football Operations] Rob Brzezinski.” Krammer wrote:

Leah Brzezinski, an educator with a doctoral degree, will host Saturday’s fundraiser at TCO Performance Center with Rob, the Vikings salary cap guru, to benefit the Arete Academy of Exceptional Education in Minneapolis.

Leah Brzezinski started the school a few years ago after recognizing signs in her young son struggling academically, socially and emotionally in school. Arete creates individual education programs for bright students who also have learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD and/or anxiety.

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, running back Latavius Murray and tight end Kyle Rudolph are scheduled to be part of the evening that will include dinner, drinks and live music.

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