this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; The New Orleans Saints will bring in veteran kickers John Carney and Kris Brown for tryouts today, according to league sources. But they apparently remain undecided about what to do with current kicker Garrett Hartley, the postseason hero who has ...
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|09-28-2010, 12:31 PM||#1|
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The New Orleans Saints will bring in veteran kickers John Carney and Kris Brown for tryouts today, according to league sources. But they apparently remain undecided about what to do with current kicker Garrett Hartley, the postseason hero who has been off to a turbulent start this season.
Garrett Hartley has been consitently inconsistent so far this season for the New Orleans Saints.
"We'll see, " Saints Coach Sean Payton said on the morning after Hartley missed a 29-yard field-goal attempt in overtime, allowing the Atlanta Falcons to escape with a 27-24 victory. "I think the thing you always have to be careful of is you turn around the day after and make decisions that maybe are the ones that aren't well thought out.
"We'll meet on it. We'll visit. You know how we feel about him (Hartley). He's a guy that has come up big for us. And there were more 'wide lefts' yesterday than just the kicker. There were other mistakes made in that game that maybe led it to overtime."
It's hard to believe the Saints would cut ties so soon with the third-year pro, who was so clutch for them last year. He made the winning 40-yard field goal in overtime of the NFC championship game, then became the first kicker to make three field goals of 40-plus yards in the Super Bowl.
But it's also understandable that the Saints' faith in Hartley might be a little shaken after he missed such a short kick in such a big spot Sunday.
It was Hartley's third miss in seven field-goal attempts this season, though he did make a winning 37-yard field goal as time expired at San Francisco in Week 2, plus the 32-yarder that sent Sunday's game against the Falcons into overtime.
Hartley sounded just as torn as Payton when asked if he thinks it's fair that the Saints are considering other options at this point.
"John Carney is an amazing person and a friend of mine, " Hartley said when asked specifically about the reports of Carney's tryout. "And at the same time, it's a business, and it's kind of one of the hardest things to understand, especially coming into my third year. And now things have been a roller coaster the first three games. But if John comes in, then whatever the coaches decide, that's out of my control. The only thing I can control is my attitude and how I go about my daily schedule, my routine, and focus on what I can do to get better."
When asked if it would be important to him to get some sort of reassurance from Payton or anyone else in the organization, Hartley said, "It's always a positive reinforcement, but at the same time it's not a necessity. I'm gonna do everything I can and I know how to do, and the things that have gotten me to this level. And just go out there and believe in myself."
Hartley faced the fire again Monday morning, fielding questions from reporters for the second consecutive day and taking the blame on his shoulders.
"Especially at this position, sometimes they say you're the hero, sometimes you're the goat. And last night I was wearing the horns, " said Hartley, who said he got a lot of support from friends, family and kickers around the league -- including Carney.
He said his parents were in town last night to help comfort him, but he said, "I think at that time there's nothing really anybody can say to make you feel better, regardless of who it is, even from your own mom.
"And then being my worst critic is myself, obviously I expect high things, and I set the bar high. And like I said last night and yesterday, that was unexcusable. So coming out here, I have to have a positive attitude, that's the most important thing. Telling myself I got this job for a reason. I came out here and I competed, and I earned it. So I'm gonna do everything that I can to not just have my job but go out there and do great things for this team."
If the Saints don't want to release Hartley outright, they could bring in a part-time replacement while he works out the kinks. Last year, they kept Hartley and Carney on the active roster for nearly three months after Hartley came back from a four-game suspension to begin the season.
Carney held the job through the first 11 games, then Hartley took over for the final five games of the regular season and the playoffs.
The Saints' faith in Hartley was rewarded then, when they hung onto him through the suspension for taking a banned stimulant, then stuck by him after he missed a 37-yard field-goal attempt that would have won a Week 16 home game against Tampa Bay.
At that time, players and coaches all showed their support for Hartley. But linebacker Scott Fujita, who is now with the Browns, admitted later in an interview with GQ that he was seething after Hartley's miss.
"It depends who your kicker is, " Fujita said when asked how players respond to missed field-goal attempts in big spots. "When I was in Kansas City with Morten Andersen, you didn't say a word. His track record spoke for itself. But last December, when I was with New Orleans, our fat punk kicker, Garrett Hartley, missed a game-winner, and we lost for the second week in a row -- that was one of the times you want to grab a guy and tell him to (expletive) off. But Hartley was young, and I didn't want to mess him up for good, so I just bit my lip and said, 'Hey, man, don't worry about it -- it was a team loss, ' which of course was a total lie.
"But I'm so glad I did, 'cause to my utter amazement he ended up making the kick that sent us to the Super Bowl, and then he came up big in that game, too."
Players in the locker room Monday, however, insisted that's not how they felt after Hartley's latest miss -- especially since they were pinning so much of the blame on themselves.
"Nobody puts the blame on anybody. For what? That's not gonna do anybody any good, " guard Carl Nicks said. "You know, I gave up a sack, Drew (Brees) threw two picks. You know, it's a team game. And that's just one aspect of the game. Yeah, he missed a field goal, which was kind of crucial. But at the end of the day, we wouldn't have put him in that predicament if we had done better on offense or defense."
"It's hard for me to be mad at Garrett Hartley, " linebacker Scott Shanle said. "I mean, yeah, he had a kick. We all wanted him to make the kick. He wanted to make the kick. But at the same time, when I look at some of the things I could have done better ... if we get off the field on third-and-5 on some of those scoring drives they led to, Garrett Hartley doesn't get put in that situation."
When asked if he thinks Hartley earned some extra goodwill from his playoff performance last year, Shanle thought for a few seconds, then said, "Umm, I think a little bit, you've got to give him the benefit of the doubt. I mean, the guy hit the biggest kick in franchise history to give us the opportunity to win a championship. And I think we're three games into this season, obviously I think you give him the benefit of the doubt a little bit longer than throwing your arms up and saying, 'What's going on with this guy?'"
Carney, 46, has had an on-again, off-again relationship with the Saints during the Payton era. After six steady seasons with the Saints, he was released in 2007 because the Saints wanted a kicker with a stronger leg. But Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis admitted later that it was one of their greatest regrets. While they struggled through kicking foibles with Olindo Mare, Martin Gramatica and Taylor Mehlhaff over the next two years, Carney shined for the New York Giants in 2008.
The Saints brought Carney back last year, though, when Hartley was suspended. And they kept him around for several months, though he wasn't able to permanently secure the job, making 13 of 17 field-goal attempts and 50 of 52 extra-point attempts. After they released him in December, they kept him around as a kicking consultant, and he played an important role in Hartley's development.
Carney ranks third in NFL history with 2,044 points in a 22-year career spent with Tampa Bay, the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Kansas City, the Giants and the Saints again. He made 150 of 180 field-goal attempts (83 percent) during his first run with the Saints.
Brown, 33, spent the past eight years with the Houston Texans -- the entire franchise history -- before losing a close battle for the job to fellow veteran Neil Rackers in training camp this summer. Brown made four of his five field-goal attempts in the preseason, missing only a 56-yarder.
Reportedly, Rackers won the job because of his better leg strength on kickoffs, which wouldn't be an issue in New Orleans because punter Thomas Morstead can kick off. But Brown had the most inefficient season of his career last year, making 21 of 32 field-goal attempts (65.6 percent).
Brown also was fighting through a case of plantar fasciitis in his right foot this summer and was officially placed on injured reserve before being released with an injury settlement. But the injury didn't slow him in the preseason and is not expected to be an issue anymore.
Brown has made 252 of 326 field-goal attempts in his career (77 percent), which began with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1999-2001.
Last edited by QBREES9; 09-28-2010 at 12:33 PM..