Daniel Carlson made a 44-yard field goal and all three of his extra-point attempts in Oakland’s 24-21 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday, making him 10-of-11 on field-goal attempts and 14-of-14 on extra-points in seven games since joining the Raiders.
Yes, this is the same guy whom the Vikings traded up to select in the fifth round of the draft last April. It’s also the same guy who missed three field-goal attempts in Week 2 at Green Bay, costing the Vikings a victory and costing himself his job.
So what the heck happened? When did Carlson go from being unemployable to being a reliable NFL kicker?
It turns out it all came down to coaching that Carlson got after the Vikings jettisoned him.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Carlson made a subtle but significant adjustment in his approach and that it came because of his work with Jamie Kohl, the director of Kohl’s Kicking Camps. Carlson has worked with Kohl since he was a high school junior.
The change made by Kohl? Carlson paces to the same starting position as he did with the Vikings, but he now takes one step closer to the ball.
“It’s just easier to control when you’re a little more compact,” Carlson told the Review-Journal. “Those steps aren’t as long. You try to be as repeatable as possible. And I’m already 6-feet-4, 6-feet-5. I’m almost at a disadvantage there because it’s harder to be repeatable when you’re that tall. As a 5-foot-10 kicker, it’s easier to have the same exact angles and levers and stuff.
“I have to continue to work on staying compact in my tall frame. That way, every time I get to the ball, it’s the exact same. Adrenaline can change things, too. So you try to be the same exact as in practice as you are in a game and just carry all that technique over.”
Unfortunately for the Vikings, Kohl did not make this adjustment earlier with Carlson even though it was considered before the 2017 season when he was at Auburn. That all changed when Carlson missed field goals from 48, 49 and 35 yards.
“It was the prime time to say, ‘You know what, Daniel? We’re going to do it a different way,'” Kohl told the Review-Journal. “He knew that this was probably the better way based on him being around a lot of our older veterans who had been successful, and he knew he was kind of an outlier, some of the things he was doing. And we were at a perfect spot where he basically had come to a point where he was open to trying it.
“My biggest concern was would he have enough time to adapt to it and be able to do it in pressure situations? I just feel everything timed out perfectly this season with him getting a couple weeks to work on it with live snap — hold, and to gain confidence in it so that when he got his next opportunity with Oakland, he was ready for it.”