I sat down with Seahawks kicker Olindo Mare after yesterday’s practice. I have interviewed him a few times since he signed with the Seahawks, and it always strikes me how much of a student of his craft he is. When you ask him a simple question, he goes off into several different tangents about stuff you would never really even consider. It is like talking to special teams coach Bruce DeHaven and you realize all the nuances of doing something that when you just watch it on TV seems like a simple thing to do. Every time I speak with Mare I feel like I learn something new about kicking philosophy. Give this interview a read and you’ll understand why he has been in the league for 13 years.
Can you talk about making the team and being named the starter? I expected it I kicked well. I have a lot going for me. I have a lot to offer. And a lot of experience. I had a great camp. I had one of the best camps I’ve had in a long time. I feel strong. It is good. It was good to have Brandon there. He is a good field goal kicker and hopefully he will get a chance to kick somewhere.
What do you think made your camp so strong? When I was hurt and took time off. Normally I haven’t taken that much time off just to get away. Normally I am in the gym two weeks later. That helped. We moved, and being involved with my family and my kids and a bunch of stuff, doing more position style lifting and stuff instead of doing all this crazy lifting, doing what I normally do during the season as far as kicking and hips and legs and things like that. To be in a position where you can still kick off with these young kids after doing it for 13 years, I feel strong.
How much time did you take off? I had surgery. So I didn’t kick a ball until I came out here. I had to kick a ball when I came out here. But I didn’t kick until around the draft, and I didn’t kick well at the draft because I wasn’t very strong. But I would have taken some time and done something but Brandon came in and was firing away so that was good for me because it made me jump on it a little harder. They always have somebody in here but I think Brandon is better than most guys they bring in camp.
We talked way back in mini-camp and you said at the time you think the difference might be your kickoff distance? When they chart you in practice, everybody is going to make a 40- or 30-yarders or whatever. Who is going to hit the 45-yarder into the wind? Who is going to kick off? Who has experience? Who can do the onside? All the little things that come up after that. I don’t know how many times you kick off, but if you tell somebody five yards isn’t a big deal, if you kick off 100 times, well that is 500 yards during a season, then that is a lot. Brandon just has to learn how to do it.
Well how do you learn how to do it? Some of it is genetics.
To me, it seems like either you can or you can’t? There is some technique stuff that you can do. Certain strength stuff you can do. Leg speed. But there is some stuff you can’t. You might be able to teach that Bolt guy (Usain) to catch a ball, but you are never going to be able to teach somebody to run like him. Either you got it or you don’t. That’s how it is with leg speed and leg power. I just try to work on my strength and my weaknesses and you don’t give up on either one. So far so good. I had a good amount of touchbacks. There were even a few run-outs in Chicago that in the regular season probably wouldn’t be. But you have to understand, if you are a rookie and you take a knee, you are probably not going to make the team. So they are going to run them out five or six yards deep. I felt good. I hit that one into the wind the other game. That was probably my best kick. Even though it looks better when it goes 10 yards deep, when you catch them into the wind on the 3, that is a pretty good kick. It was a good camp. We went through two holders and three snappers. That is a big adjustment because everybody is different. Luckily Jeff (Robinson) came in and he kind of made it easy to adjust. We are going to wear Plack out because we have a lot of practice to get in.
Your field goal percentage has gone down in each of the past three years. How much of that is health, and how confident are you that is going to go up? I don’t think it is any different. If you look at it, last year I was one of six from over 50. That is like if you are a quarterback throwing Hail Marys at the end of the game. The pick still counts. We tried from 58 against the wind. I tried from 54 two or three times. Percentages are not making them. Look at (Sebastian) Janikowski, who was one of the worst in the league last year too. But he hit the post from 64, from 58. If we go out there and every time the ball is from more than 50 yards away tell the coach, ‘Hey I can’t do it,’ I probably would be over 80 percent. Listen, you look at the last couple years, and I talk to Janikowki and Neil Rackers, the guys who have the worst percentages in the league are the guys who attempt the longest field goals. If you kick it 80 yards through the end zone, you feel like you should make a 50-yarder. Last year out of those couple, even though they were 54 or 58, I felt I could make them and I asked coach if I could kick them. It doesn’t mean the percentages are high.
Do you think being a veteran and having experience played a role in their decision-making from the standpoint that this is Mike’s last year and they want to give him every opportunity to win and maybe feels uncomfortable with a rookie? I have no idea. You have to ask him that question. Like I said, I was just trying to make every kick. Experience is important, but it is not going to mean a lot if you don’t make the field goals in practice or preseason. They are not just going to say, well he has done it in the past. If you don’t do well and continue to do well … That is my philosophy, you are only as good as your last kick.