by: Chris Sullivan
Word from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (one of the best remaining newspapers around) is that Seahawks kicker and eyebrow model Brandon Coutu has been working outwith former Atlanta Falcons kicker, and NFL all-time scoring leader, Morten Andersen. Coutu, a University of Georgia alum, was arguably the best placekicker coming out in the 2008 draft, but eventually lost the starting job to Olindo Mare. In order for Coutu to see any playing time this year, it is clear that he going to need to step up his game a bit, and that is where Andersen comes in, saying:
“With all due respect to special-teams coaches, they are schematic. They are great at scheming. Not a lot of them are really good at teaching the art of kicking and what it takes. There are a lot of misconceptions and misnomers about what it takes to be a kicker. It’s very detail-oriented. It’s a high-performance business. A lot is demanded of the position.”
While Andersen ran Coutu through a number of field goal drills and gametime situations, the focus inevitably turned to kickoffs, the determining factor in 2008.
“Kickoffs are the thing right now for him,” Andersen said. “We’re trying to get more power through the kickoff, better hang time and better distance. His ball-striking on his field goals is exceptional, but in order to be a complete NFL kicker you have to both of those skill-sets. The field-goal skill-set I’m pretty confident with, and I’m adding some of the mental specific things, putting him in tough situations.
You might recall that Coutu's only knock last year was his kickoffs. It is fantastic that they are working hard on improving that skill-set. As bad as our defense was last year, Mare did everything he could to help them with field position, getting 31% of all kickoffs into the endzone -- that's in the top 5, as it usually is for him. In a league where field goal percentage is essentially random year-to-year (Mare was top 5 in 2006, worst in the league in 2007, top 5 or so in 2008), kickoffs are where a kicker can truly prove himself and earn his keep. Looking forward to seeing Coutu and his caterpillars come August 3!