There are probably not many people who get excited about a punter, but after two years of inadequate punt from Britton Colquitt’s boot, Jordan Berry’s right foot execution has been a breath of fresh air. A change in bettor may not be first on the agenda when thinking about ways to improve a team. It was something I wanted to see, so I was pleased with the addition of the Australian punter who added more international flavor to the Vikings kicking unit, with South African kicker Greg Joseph already on the roster.
Berry is one of four Australian bettors currently playing in the NFL with Seattle’s Michael Dickson (now of double punt fame), Texans Cameron Johnston and 49ers Mitch Wishnowsky. Jordan’s younger brother Wilson will hope to join the Australian ranks in a few years as he began his college football career with the Kentucky Wildcats this season.
Minnesota Vikings special teams were a horror show last season. Fortunately, he has improved a lot so far this season with new special teams coordinator Ryan Ficken. Dramatically improved punt has been part of that. Colquitt had a perfectly respectable career heading into Minnesota, but his two years in purple weren’t impressive. He failed to hit a punt of more than 60 yards during his time with the Vikings, averaging 45.1 yards per punt, putting him 24th among punters last season.
Sailing is not just about distance. After all, how far you want to kick depends on where you are on the field. Colquitt hit a series of bad punts for the Vikings. For example, there was a punt at Arrowhead Stadium in 2019 that gave the Chiefs a prime position on the field, as what turned out to be a game-winning unit is only one that sticks in memory.
Improving the team
After agreeing to a restructured, more team-friendly deal, it looked like the Vikings were ready to stick with Colquitt. That turned out not to be the case. When the Pittsburgh Steelers cut Jordan Berry and decided to run with rookie kicker Pressley Harvin III, the Vikings front office moved quickly to sign the kicker who was in the middle of the group among punters last season.
In the four games so far, the Australian kicker has been impressive, with the longest punt at 63 yards and an average of 48.5, which is the ninth-best in the league. Berry is off to a very good start to his career at Minnesota. It’s not just about yards. It’s all about good punts at the right time. So far, Berry has delivered.
One criticism I’ve seen coming out of Pittsburgh is that his performance declined at the end of the season when it was cold – Australians are not known for liking the cold. If that’s a problem, we haven’t seen it yet and playing home games indoors will be an advantage. To date, wearing the purple jersey has been nothing but good things about Jordan Berry. Let it continue for a long time.