this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; That the veteran kicker was still kicking around New Orleans last weekend was a tribute to his extraordinary proficiency and enduring professionalism. But it's also a testament to Sean Payton's coaching acumen. One of the most encouraging signs of Payton's ...
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|10-15-2009, 07:55 AM||#1|
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That the veteran kicker was still kicking around New Orleans last weekend was a tribute to his extraordinary proficiency and enduring professionalism.
But it's also a testament to Sean Payton's coaching acumen.
One of the most encouraging signs of Payton's four-year tenure has been his ability to learn from past mistakes.
Last season he tried to pass his way through a monsoon in Tampa Bay, took a bitter loss and pledged thereafter to balance his offense.
In the eight games since, the Saints have averaged 30 rushes a contest, and that includes an anomalous 11-carry game in the 2008 season finale against Carolina. That's an increase of six per game from before the Bucs' game.
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He has also learned that sometimes less is more when it comes to practice. He lightened the workload during training camp this year and gave the Saints an extra day off during the bye week. As a result, the Saints have been a healthier, better team this season.
It might take him awhile sometimes, but Payton is willing to learn. And that's more than you can say about a lot of people, especially most NFL head coaches.
And in keeping Carney around after regular kicker Garrett Hartley's league-mandated four-game suspension has expired, Payton is showing his maturity. He's not worried about saving face or showing folks Garrett Hartley is a better long-term option as the team's place-kicker.
Payton understands what's at stake this season, and he's not about to ruin a potentially good thing with a bone-headed decision just to prove a point.
True to form, Payton refused to reveal his hand in regard to his kicking rotation this week.
Asked about the kicking situation, Payton danced around the details, saying only, "John (Carney) has done a good job with location. We're not announcing anything yet, but we feel good about the combination that we've been working with, so we'll see as this week progresses."
It's a safe bet Payton won't upset something that's working.
The Saints' kicking game has been a strength during a 4-0 start. Carney has made all six of his field-goal attempts since having his first try blocked in the opener against Detroit, and rookie punter Thomas Morstead has excelled on kickoffs, putting 17 of 28 into the end zone.
It's not the main reason the Saints are off to their best start in 16 years, but the improved kicking game is one of them.
Payton would be foolish to mess with that kind of success. So when the lineup cards are announced for Sunday's big game against the New York Giants at the Superdome one Sunday, I expect Carney and Morstead to be on the active list. Hartley most likely will be watch from the sideline in street clothes with the other seven inactive players.
Payton need look no further than this week's opponent, the New York Giants, for precedent.
The Giants had Lawrence Tynes, one of the top young kickers in the NFL, on their roster last season. He had just helped kick the team to a Super Bowl title and been awarded a new long-term contract.
But when Carney stepped in for the injured Tynes and kicked better during the interim, Coach Tom Coughlin wisely chose to keep the veteran around. After Tynes returned in Week 10, he was inactive for six of the Giants' final nine games.
Carney rewarded Coughlin's decision by making 35 of 38 field-goal attempts and earning a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Payton appears to be executing a similar plan. The place-kick job is now Carney's to lose. Ditto the kickoff job for Morstead. Hartley and his powerful right leg will be waiting in the bullpen.
The kicking game has been an albatross for Payton since he released Carney in 2006. Inconsistent kicking cost the Saints wins in 2007 and 2008.
Carney, 45, might not have the leg he had in his 20s, but he has enough power to convert consistently from 45 yards and in. He made six of eight attempts from 40-plus yards last season, including a 51-yarder. And that was in the cold, windy conditions of East Rutherford, N.J. The climate-controlled Superdome is much more kicker-friendly.
As quarterback Drew Brees said Wednesday, "Our time is now."
The Saints are a veteran team loaded with players in their primes. Vets like safety Darren Sharper and fullback Heath Evans came here to win a Super Bowl. At some point this season, the Saints will need their place-kicker to make a game-winner. Their postseason lives might even depend on it.
And Carney, with his multiple Pro Bowls and veteran poise, is the guy you want taking that kick right now.
The Saints' kicking future is Hartley. But "now" belongs to Carney.
New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton shows maturity regarding kicker situation: Jeff Duncan | New Orleans Saints Central - - NOLA.com
|10-15-2009, 02:22 PM||#2|
Join Date: May 2007
Re: New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton shows maturity regarding kicker situation: Jeff Duncan
I like Payton and don't disagree with this article. I just can't help but think that if we were 0-4, the article wouldn't read "Payton shows maturity...."
It would be more like " 3 kickers? WTH is he doing?????????????"
Funny how that works.
Once my Carefree Gum ran out of juice, I was right back to pondering my own immortality.