You never think of the long snapper as a key player on a team. But with Tyler Ott ruled out for the Seahawks Monday, we may be painfully aware of just how important they can be.
We joke about Tyler Ott quite a bit on our podcast – you know, the one that you see linked in our articles all the time. The reason we joke about him is that he’s…well, he’s a long snapper. That isn’t exactly the glamour position of the NFL.
Sales of long snapper jerseys have to rank somewhere between the practice squad quarterback and the punter from 1987. For the Seahawks, that would be Ruben Rodriguez.
As for Tyler Ott, the joking is just that – joking. He’s one of the best in the league at his position. No, it isn’t a glamourous spot, and you probably never hear his name announced during the game. That’s actually a very good thing. About the only time you’ll hear a long snapper’s name is when they make a bad snap. And Tyler Ott simply doesn’t do that.
Tyler Ott has given Seahawks special play for years
The Hawks have been blessed to have Tyler Ott on the field for the past 81 games. That’s 81 consecutive games, by the way. Counting playoffs, Ott has been the man to hike the ball in 87 straight contests. That streak will end Monday night, as he’ll be out with a shoulder injury. As reported by Bob Condotta for The Seattle Times, Ott will likely require surgery and would miss at least four games.
The Seahawks signed Carson Tinker to step in for Ott. As Condotta noted, Tinker was a teammate of Hawks kicker Jason Myers in Jacksonville in 2015 and 2016. Tinker’s no rookie, as he’s handled over 600 snaps in his career. For the record, Ott was closing in on 800 snaps. But for now, the job belongs to Tinker.
Why does this matter? If you saw the Bengals-Steelers game, you already know why. Their long snapper, Clark Harris, left the game with a bicep injury. Their third-string tight end, Mitchell Wilcox, was pressed into service and it cost the Bengals the win. Charlie Goldsmith quoted Bengals kicker Evan McPherson after the game, taking the blame for the misses:
"“(Harris’ injury) impacted the operation as a whole,” McPherson said. “Mitch was doing a good job (snapping) on the sideline. There wasn’t much to talk about. We were working on good timing and just hitting the ball. Mitch was looking good warming up. He did a pretty good job. I can’t put any blame on him. I just got to make it.”"
Still, Wilcox made two bad snaps. The Bengals had an extra point blocked, then saw a terribly shanked field goal. Either play would have won the game for Cincinnati. I can’t blame Wilcox, considering those were the first snaps he’d ever made in an NFL game. But that doesn’t change the importance of the position.
The Seahawks are in a much better position coming into Monday night’s faceoff vs the Broncos. They had time to find an experienced veteran. While he has experience with Jason Myers, I’d say his rapport with holder Michael Dickson is the experience that will matter. Mr. Ott may not be the most important Tyler on Seattle’s roster, but I’m ordering my 69 jersey tomorrow.