Forgetting coverage and return units and Garrett Hartley's brutal patch of play earlier this season, I think we can count our lucky stars to have the Hartley and Thomas Morstead special teams kicking duo. Let's hope these two are around and stay healthy for many years to come.
Quite simply, it's got the potential to be the most stable and long term kicking situation the Saints have had since the days of Morten Andersen and Tommy Barnhardt. Andersen and Barnhardt worked in tandem from 1988 through 1994 and they provided a constantly stable force for the Saints' kicking game. Since then, the Saints haven't had a tandem last longer than 3 years. I believe this current tandem could last longer, and possibly be better, by the time it's all said and done.Let's take a look at who the Saints have had going into each season as a kicker/punter duo:
2009: John Carney & Thomas Morstead (Carney opened the season for a suspended Hartley, but eventually relinquished his job back to Hartley)
2008: Martin Grammatica & Steve Weatherford (Glenn Pakulak replaced Weatherford, and the Saints would use 3 kickers that year)
2007: Olindo Mare & Steve Weatherford (Mare was horrible and replaced by Grammatica)
2006: John Carney & Steve Weatherford (Carney was older and the Saints needed to carry Billy Cundiff on the roster to handle kickoffs)
2005: John Carney & Mitch Berger (This duo worked really well, just short lived. Too bad Berger got that pelvic infection)
2004: John Carney & Mitch Berger
2003: John Carney & Mitch Berger
2002: John Carney & Toby Gowin (Gowin replaced by Dirk Johnson)
2001: John Carney & Toby Gowin
2000: Doug Brien & Toby Gowin (Brien's lack of leg strength became a liability)
1999: Doug Brien & Tommy Barnhardt (Barnhardt's new stint with the Saints was a disaster)
1998: Doug Brien & Mark Royals (never understood why the Saints didn't keep Royals, he was solid)
1997: Doug Brien & Mark Royals
1996: Doug Brien & Klaus Wilmsmeyer (one of the worst punters in Saints' history)
1995: Chip Lohmiller & Klaus Wilmsmeyer (Lohmiller was a farce, replaced by Brien)
So there you have it. While some of the names above produced decent to good years (namely Berger, Royals, Gowin, Weatherford, Carney and Brien), you couldn't call any of these a stabilizing solid duo. Carney and Berger were the closest thing, but that tandem was broken up by a weird infection Mitch Berger got in his pelvis. And while Carney was always solid on field goals, his age made his leg power/kickoffs a real liability.
Hartley resembles Andersen most with his combination of power and accuracy, and Morstead resembles Barnhardt most with his tall frame and booming hang time. There is no reason these two can't have a 6+ year run together.
How stable do you think the Hartley-Morstead combo is? How long do you predict they'll last together?