Just for Kicks: Does John Carney Signing Fix New Orleans Saints' Field Goal Woes?

Paul Augustin, Jr.Senior Analyst ISeptember 29, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 08:  Kicker John Carney #3 of the New Orleans Saints at Louisiana Superdome on November 8, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The agent for kicker John Carney, Jack Mills, announced on Tuesday that the New Orleans Saints have re-signed their former kicker.

So what now?

This raises more questions than it does answer them.

What role will Carney play?

Is he the full-time kicker or will the 46-year old handle shorter kicks (say from 29 and 32 yards away) and cede the longer kicks to Garrett Hartley?

If Carney is the full-time kicker, then does Hartley still have a roster spot or will Sean Payton cut a third-stringer to make room for two kickers?

My guess is that the Saints will keep Hartley and cut either linebacker Anthony Waters, whose played in just one game this season, or fullback Marcus Mailei, whose been inactive all year.

Maybe Hartley still keeps his job and Carney is there as a "kicking consultant."

You may recall that Carney, who previously played six seasons with the Saints, was re-signed by the team last year, after Hartley was suspended four games for testing positive for Adderall.

Carney proceeded to make 13 of 17 field goals but also missed two extra points in 11 games.

New Orleans then turned to Hartley, cut Carney, and re-hired him as kicking consultant.

Hartley began his career with the Saints in 2008. The former Oklahoma Sooner made the first 16 field goal attempts of his career.

His first miss came in 2009 against Washington.

It was no big deal, though, because it was a 58-yarder at the end of regulation. That's a tough assignment for even Morten Andersen in his prime.

Hartley proceeded to make the game-winning field goal in overtime to cap a thrilling Saints comeback.

He was a hero compared to his counterpart, Shaun Suisham, who had earlier missed a chip shot field goal late in the fourth quarter that would have virtually sealed the game for the Redskins.

Hartley's first miss turned into several misses: He missed an extra point against the Falcons the next week and later a game-winning field goal against Tampa Bay.

Hartley started 2010 by missing two field goals against Minnesota; his latest miss was a 29-yard chippy, again against Atlanta.

Hartley is truly an enigma wrapped in a mystery.

He has missed six kicks (including extra points) in his career.

Five of them have been in domes—that's right, indoors. No wind. Perfect kicking surface.

He's a 94.7 percent kicker on the road but makes just two-thirds of his kicks at home.

Three of his five missed field goals have come either at the end of regulation or in overtime, yet his 40-yarder in overtime of the NFC Championship Game against the Vikings is one of the most pressure-packed and celebrated in Saints' history. He also owns the Super Bowl record for most made field goals of at least 40 yards.

I don't understand Garrett Hartley, and I doubt the 24-year old understands himself either.

He doesn't need a kicking consultant—he needs what other struggling athletes have done.

He needs a shrink.


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