After Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bears, Jim Mora chastised kicker Olindo Mare in his post-game press conference for missing two key field goals. It is quite rare for a head coach in the NFL to single out a player like Mora did with Mare.
“There’s no excuses for those,” Mora said through pure emotion. “If you’re a kicker in the National Football League, you should make those kicks. Bottom line. End of story. Perior. No excuses. No wind. Doesn’t matter.
“You’ve got to make those kicks, especially in a game like this when you’re kicking and scratching and fighting and playing your tail off and you miss those kicks? Not acceptable. Not acceptable. Absolutely not acceptable.”
And for some reason, Mora took some heat from fans and media for criticizing his kicker.
The Seahawks lost to the Bears by six points. Mare missed two field goals that could’ve equaled that deficit. And while the game would’ve almost certainly been different had Mare made those attempts, there is no doubt his misses hurt the team.
A missed field goal is just as bad as a turnover. The opportunity for points is lost and the opposing offense is given the football.
What would’ve happened to Seneca Wallace if he’d marched the Seahawks into enemy territory and turned the ball over twice? Mora, fans, and the media would’ve likely criticized him the entire week.
But Olindo Mare misses two field goals in a close game and some people are upset that Mora singled him out?
What about Mike Singletary?
During a lost to Seattle last season, the 49ers head coach sent tight end Vernon Davis to the locker room before halftime following a personal foul penalty. In the post-game press conference, Singletary referred to Davis’ actions as “uncoachable” and said he would rather play with a 10-man squad.
At halftime during the same game, it was reported that Mike Singletary dropped his pants in front of his team to illustrate they were getting kicked in the rear by the Seahawks.
Yet the fans and media consider Mike Singletary a disciplinarian, praising his ability to control players and hold them accountable. Criticizing players is a part of his routine, and the 49ers appear to be improved because of it.
So what makes Jim Mora’s post-game criticism of Olindo Mare so bad?
Mare choked, blew an opportunity for six points, and the Seahawks lost by the same margin. As a dejected fan after the game, I was happy to see the coach criticize Mare – it is unacceptable for a kicker to miss two critical attempts in the National Football League.
But Mora has since retracted his harsh criticism of Mare.
“I have very high expectations for Olindo and it’s because of the work he’s done in this league,” Mora said. “He’s been an outstanding kicker and he’s done a lot of great things for us.
“I think I let the emotion of the game get to me in my answers about Olindo. One of the things that confirms my feelings about Olindo Mare is the way he came out when we were down and popped one through to give us the lead there after having missed two.”
While I don’t think it is time to make a change at kicker yet, it is worth noting that Brandon Coutu is still available. But despite a couple missed attempts, Mare is following up a great season and still possesses excellent strength on kickoffs.
I hope this incident doesn’t inhibit Jim Mora from criticizing players in the future. While a post-game press conference may not be the greatest channel for such criticism, it is important that players are held accountable and expectations are kept high.
With any luck, maybe the criticism will result in better production and performance.