Mare scoffs over having to compete for Seattle job
Put a game on the line with one swing of his leg, send 11 men
charging after him, throw in some wind – and Olindo Mare stays
eerily unflappable. Not to mention accurate.
Yet ask the accomplished 36-year-old kicker who is carrying a
Seahawks record of 18 consecutive made field goals into Sunday’s
game at Houston about having to fight for his job this summer with
an unproven kid?
Oh, yeah, that gets Mare flapping.
“I never felt any competition, because I never felt I was
challenged,” Mare said.
He is 21 for 23 on kicks since Seattle ended the competition it
had declared between him and Brandon Coutu, a 2008 draft pick. He
is 45 for 50 in his two years with Seattle, after going 2 for 2
last weekend against San Francisco. The latter one came into a
swirling, biting wind as time expired and sent Seattle (5-7) to its
second consecutive win.
His 91.3 percent success rate on field goals this season is the
highest of a highly accurate 13-year career for the 1999 Pro Bowl
selection with Miami. Mare left the Dolphins following the 2006
season as their all-time scoring leader, then had one injury-filled
season in New Orleans before he resurrected his career with
Mare scoffs that the Seahawks and coach Jim Mora doubted him
just three months ago.
“Not many people can compete with me the way I’m kicking right
now,” Mare said.
Mare became magnificent immediately after his coach roasted him
in the wake of a loss to Chicago in Week 3. He missed his only two
field goals of the season that day, the margin of defeat in a 25-19
loss to the Bears.
“No excuses … You’ve got to make those kicks, especially when
you’re in a game like this kicking and fighting and scratching and
playing your tail off and you miss those kicks,” a terse Mora said
in postgame comments Sept. 27. “Not acceptable. Not acceptable.
Absolutely not acceptable.”
“We’ll look at making a change everywhere. We’re not going to
fight our (rears) off and have a field goal kicker go out there and
miss two field goals and lose a game.”
A day later, Mora regretted the outburst. And it’s good for
Seattle that a change never came.
Mare is 16 for 16 since. And it’s not like he was exactly
loafing that day against Chicago. He made four kicks in six tries
and started his Seahawks record streak for makes late in that
“I think it has very little to do with my very direct and
probably overbearing criticism of him on that day,” Mora said of
Mare’s Pro Bowl-caliber season. “I think it’s just a testament to
the type of professional that Olindo is.
“Whether I said anything to him or not, he has a lot of pride
in his performance, and he takes it very seriously. That’s one of
the reasons that he’s had so much success in this league as a
kicker. We’re reaping the benefits of that now.”
And not just in field goals. Mare has boomed 21 of his 58
kickoffs for touchbacks. His 36 percent rate is second in the NFL
to the 39 percent of Atlanta’s Michael Koenen – and Koenen is a
specialist who hasn’t been doing field goal duty for the
Mare’s kickoffs and the beneficial field position they give
Seattle’s defense is a large reason he won the job the last two
preseasons over Coutu. Coutu was a favorite of general manager and
president Tim Ruskell, who was ousted last week.
“The most impressive thing about Olindo Mare is his kickoffs,”
Mora said. “He just really gives us a chance to create long fields
(for an opponent).”
Mare can even punt. Last weekend, he lined up for a 52-yard
field goal into the wind at the open end of his home stadium. Then
Mare surprised the 49ers by taking the direct snap and deftly
placing a pooch punt that Seattle downed at the San Francisco
He is now so good, Mora can’t even remember who it was Mare was
“competing” with for his job a few months ago.
“At no point did he feel like he wasn’t going to win, and I
think you have to respect that in him,” Mora said. “And yet he
was very respectful of the kid that was here … great memory …
uh, what was his name?
“Brandon Coutu!” a sheepish Mora blurted out after a pause.
“I’m sorry about that Brandon – and Brandon’s parents.”