RENTON It shouldn’t take a Ph D to fix the Seahawks’ issue in kick snapping.
It does, however, apparently take a degree from Harvard.
The Seahawks on Tuesday signed free-agent Tyler Ott, who played tight end and snapped at Harvard, as their new long snapper for Saturday’s NFC wild-card playoff game against Detroit at CenturyLink Field.
The 24-year-old Ott is a veteran of four career games, three with Cincinnati this season after he had tried out for Seattle, and one in 2015 with the New York Giants. He replaces undafted rookie Nolan Frese. Seattle put Frese on injured reserve after he sprained his ankle and sent a snap far over punter Jon Ryan’s head and well through the end zone for a safety in Sunday’s win at San Francisco.
Ott was wearing jersey number 69 and practicing with the Seahawks on Tuesday afternoon. While Seattle was preparing on Friday to leave the next day for its regular-season finale at the 49ers, Ott was at the Boston Opera House attending a holiday performance of The Nutcracker.
Now he’ll be the trigger man on punts and kicks for potentially key points in the Seahawks’ most important games this season.
“Tyler’s played in games this year, and he’s done well,” coach Pete Carroll said. “His numbers are right as far as his tempo getting the ball back. He’s a good-sized kid. He looks good.”
As for former Seahawks long snapper Clint Gresham, who you keep asking about Seattle terminated his million-dollar-plus contract in mid March following some bad snaps late last season: He remains a free agent. Given the Seahawks have signed four kick snappers since March and not one of them named Clint Gresham, it’s obvious the team has no interest in bringing him back.
Asked about any concern about switching long snappers and the much-considered chemistry between snapper, holder Jon Ryan and kicker Steven Hauschka on field goals and extra points, Carroll said: “We’re going for it like we’re not even going to think twice about it.”
If you don’t think signing a new snapper just before the playoffs are about to begin can be a big deal, you’ve forgotten the 2003 Giants.
That was how the Giants lost an NFC wild-card playoff game at San Francisco on Jan. 5, 2003. Four days before that game, New York signed Trey Junkin out of retirement because coach Tom Coughlin didn’t like how his team’s kick snaps had been.
He liked that snap against the 49ers even less.
Hauschka missed 10 kicks in the regular season -- six extra points and four field goals. He missed 10 kicks total in the 2014 and ‘15 seasons combined. Some of his misses this fall and winter have come after snaps by Frese were off the mark, such as his high one on Hauschka’ point-after-touchdown attempt that went wide with 1 minute left and the scored tied at 31 on Christmas Eve. Seattle lost that game to Arizona 34-31, blowing the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. That loss is why Seattle is playing this weekend instead of having a first-round bye.
So, yes, it matters the Seahawks have replaced their long snapper four days before their playoff opener. We’ll find out Saturday how much.