Jeff Feagles suggested rookie punter Matt Dodge see a sports psychologist to help cure him of the inconsistency that has plagued his first season.
Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported the comments, which don’t appear to be that off target. Anyone watching Dodge can see the kid has the leg strength and ability to get the job done. But his maddening ways, which showed up again in the first half of the Bears game last week, have fans wondering when Tom Coughlin will lose patience with him and find another punter.
So far, Coughlin is taking the patient route as far as replacing Dodge. But that doesn't mean he isn't lining up his options. On Tuesday, he worked out former Colts punter Hunter Smith, though Smith left his solid audition without a contract.
Still, Dodge’s improvement in the second half – his punt into the end zone could have been downed at the 2 – showed Coughlin he’s capable. But he also had a 56-yard liner brought back 36 yards by Devin Hester, only to be called back because of a penalty, and he fumbled a snap before he got off a short punt when he could have run it for the first down.
“I’m a very patient person,” Coughlin said. “Yeah, because I believe he’s gotten better. Let’s face it – no matter how you go about it, it’s two returns for six yards. So, I just think that there was improvement. The ball should have been down on the two-yard line.
“The one punt was really spectacular. It was outstanding. As I’ve said, he’s inconsistent – no doubt – the dropping of the ball there was…I don’t know where that one came from. That’s all we do is snap the ball to him and he catches it – even when he doesn’t punt – just catch the ball, catch the ball, go through your steps, go through it.”
The crowd gave him an awful booing, which is probably all the more reason to seek a shrink’s help.
"I told Jerry Reese [Giants general manager] a couple of weeks ago that Matt has all the physical talent in the world but that maybe bringing in a sports psychologist can really help him," Feagles told Mortensen. "Mentally, there's just a part of this game, especially with punters and kickers, that you have to overcome. This kid, I've seen him kick it to the moon on the side practice field and then you put him behind a line and sometimes he can't kick it out of a paper bag. That's too much talent to let go to waste so trying everything, including a sports psychologist, is worth it."
Reese agreed that it would be beneficial. Especially since the 44-year-old Feagles has no plans whatsoever to come out of retirement. The punting great worked with Dodge throughout training camp, but has stopped that as he tries to transition into retirement.
Hard as it may be to accept the end, Feagles made it clear to fans surrounding him in the stands at the Bears game that he’s finished.
"People ask me that all the time but I'll leave it to John Carney to carry the banner for the old kickers now that he's back [with the Saints]," said Feagles. "As much as I love football, as much as I'd love to do it, my knee is so shot I can't handle it. I mean, some days I wake up and it feels great and then two days later it feels like there's a knife sticking in my knee."
Still, Feagles found talking to a psychologist helpful when he was a struggling young punter, lo those many years ago. So it stands to reason one could help Dodge, too.
The leg strength was always there for Dodge. Perhaps its now a matter of working on his head.