Garrett Hartley has probably been getting a good deal of unsolicited free advice after missing a 29-yard field goal in overtime of last week’s loss to Atlanta.
It’s the nature of the beast for kickers, and it’s by no means anything new. Peter Finney of the Times-Picayune had an interesting look inside the place-kicking fraternity by putting in calls to Tom Dempsey and Morten Andersen for their perspectives on Hartley.
Inside the Saints locker room, Hartley had another source of advice. Drew Brees told New Orleans-area reporters he spoke with Hartley after the team brought in veteran John Carney.
“I told him I’ve been benched three times,” Brees shared. “I said it’s all part of the process. Every young player has to learn it. There’s no shortcut to it. There’s no easy way to it. You just have to learn it the hard way. You’re learning it the hard way. Make the most of it. Absorb everything you can from John Carney. John Carney’s a Hall of Fame kicker. I’ve lost track of how many years he’s played. He’s played more years than Hartley’s been alive, probably. How many opportunities do you get like that?
“When I had the opportunity to play with Doug Flutie when I was a rookie and then Mark Brunell, you constantly are a sponge and take in everything you can. Garrett Hartley has a ton of talent, and he’s already made some big kicks in his career, and there are plenty more that he has to make in the future. This is just one of those times where he has to gut it out a little bit.”
A good inside look at Brees’ leadership, and, for now, Hartley hasn’t lost his job. Saints coach Sean Payton was non-committal Thursday on who will be handling the kicking duties, saying it could be a week-by-week decision.
– Frank Tadych