The Chargers kicking fiasco started three years ago when they let John Carney go to New Orleans and signed Wade "Wide Righty" Richey. Richey battled inconsistency and Steve Christie was signed to provide a boost on shorter kicks. This theory crippled the team in 2002 as they often punted from the 31 yard line instead of lining up for a 49 yard field goal, makeable in most circles within the NFL.
As 2003 rolls around the Chargers are lacking a kicker who can kick beyond 40 yards. Steve Christie signed just this past week. John Carney had expressed a desire to come back to town, but the ego of John Butler may not have allowed it. The slow response led to Carney landing a five year deal in New Orleans.
So the Draft is here and who but Seth Marler could be on the list of potentials. Only once in the history of the league has a kicker gone in round one, Sebastian Janikowski to Oakland, and that will not change this year. Kickers have usually been reserved for the latter rounds. Jeff Chandler went in round four a year ago, and most think that too was a bit high. Travis Dorsch also went in round four to Cincinnati and only one kicker was taken the rest of the way (round 7, Hayden Epstein to Jacksonville).
The Chargers are not willing to give more than a fifth round pick to get Seth Marler, the 2001 Lou Groza Award winner, who is tops on their list.
"I knew the biggest thing I needed to improve from last year was my kickoffs, so I really worked on my leg strength all summer," Marler said. "Coach Scelfo said that was the biggest thing, if they have to start from the 20 every time, that's a big advantage for us."
By working the 2002 summer with Mackie Shilstone, the successful strength and fitness guru who also tutored NFL First Round Draft pick Patrick Ramsey, Marler added nearly 10 pounds of muscle, most directed to improve his leg power. And the results of his summer efforts have been impressive. Of Marler's 58 kickoffs, 44 have gone into the end zone, many soaring through the end zone. Opponents have returned just 24 kickoffs against the Green Wave. By allowing just 2.4 returns per game, Tulane easily leads Conference USA. The next best is the 3.0 returns per game allowed by Houston.
"I was hitting 65-70 yard field goals and kicking off five yards out of the end zone before the season," Marler continued. "But during the season your leg strength is gradually going to diminish. I really put a lot of work into that this summer. I think the coaches have given me the freedom, saying they know I have the leg to do it, so just go out there and kill it."
Ht: 6-0 Wt: 195
40 Time: 5.25
Bench Press: 225
|"Big legged dual threat kicker coming off an inconsistent senior campaign. Gets length on his kick-offs as well as hang time on punts. Accurate and consistent displaying the ability to make the big field goal during the game's critical moments. Displayed top punting skills last season, his first handling the duties. Offers excellent directional punting abilities." Tony Pauline-TFY Draft Preview|
"We had to pick a holder from the punters. I had 5 minutes to warm-up with a holder that I had never seen before," Marler said referring to the combines. "I went 15 of 15. We kicked sets of 5 from 5 yards back, starting at the 30 and alternating hashmarks. You have to kick over an 8 foot net where the line of scrimmage would be."
This after a disappointing senior season which saw Marler go 20-33 on field goals, 7-11 outside of 40 yards. This came a year after he went 15-16 including 7-7 outside of 40 yards.
"Seth has meant a lot to this football team since he has been here; he is a great contributor on and off the field," Head Coach Chris Scelfo said just before the end of the season.. "He had an amazing year last year, but he still worked very hard over the summer and, with his overall game, he has been far more important for our success this season. He is a true representative of Tulane football."
"You know you're not going to make every field goal," Marler added. "You can't get down on yourself about that; you can't hang your head over missing."
That kind of forgetful attitude is important when finding a kicker and has the Chargers brass eyeing Marler.
When asked about which teams are most interested in him Marler said, "The Chargers, and the Seahawks. Both teams are going to come in and have me work out for them."
We were unable to find the exact date of his visit, but it has been confirmed and the vision is clear, the Chargers want Marler to become a Charger. What better role can Steve Christie play then the role of teacher? He is a 13 year veteran who has seen it all and can only aid a young kicker. Look for Marler in the last half of the Draft, he may be a Charger.
Special thanks to Tony Pauline who contributed to this report.
Denis Savage can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the following link: Denis Savage
Got something to say? Talk about it on the Chargers Message Boards