New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz talks special teams, Saints-Falcons rivalry New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints Kicker Wil Lutz
Video Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, November 20, 2020
Since Chicago, things have seemed to go relatively smooth for you. As a kicker, how do you rebound from some miscues like that and try to keep it out of your head?
"I think the mental side of the kicking game is the hardest part. I think that's what keeps a lot of talented people out of the NFL. At the end of the day, take one from Morten Anderson, it's all about the next kick. And I think our unit as a whole has done a really good job. Anytime something has gone wrong, we washed it and we move on to the next one. And I think we've shown that. So, that's kind of our mentality. And, obviously, we hope that nothing ever goes wrong, but it's not realistic. And when you're playing in a tough environment, like Chicago, with the wind and the grass there, we knew we were going to have a lot more opportunities. So, we knew we had to wash it quick. But, I think we're pretty happy with where we're at right now."
Just from a psychological standpoint, how important was what this team went through last year without Drew (Brees)? How much did that help you prepare for what you're about to go through?
"I don't think you can prepare for losing a first ballot Hall of Famer. But I think, last year, we went through this already, we know as a team that we're going to find ways to win. And it just puts an emphasis on all phases coming together. And I think last year, we showed that. And it just shows that every phase has a role in winning these next few games. And so, that's what we're going to try and do."
With these division games, particularly the Atlanta game, it seems like, you know, that game is always crazy, something always unique happens in it. As a kicker, do you kind of take that into considerationwhen preparing that, you know, this might come down to a special teams moment?
"I mean, look, I love the game of football. So, you know, I understand the rivalry with Atlanta, and New Orleans. I grew up in Atlanta. So, this game is obviously a special game for everyone. And I would say as far as preparing for the game to come down to me, that's kind of what we do every week, right. I never go into a game hoping it doesn't come down to me. So, when my number is called, I like to think I'm ready. And that goes through the preparations throughout the week."
With the special teams unit as a whole, how important have both Deonte Harris and Marquez Callaway been for you, in the past couple weeks and the season as a whole?
"Deonte is, he's a special talent. I'm happy he's on my team, he's a scary guy to kick to and Marquez has come in here and done a really good job for us. I'm happy for him, happy he's trying to find his niche right now. And I think he's a great talent. But yeah, just special teams as a whole right now. We have a really talented unit. We have some of the best gunners in the league. We have a great core, core teams. And I think that's showing right now."
How important is it for you all collectively, to, you know, be as big of an asset as you can especially because, you know, Drew (Brees), isn't playing for who knows how long?
"Yes, look, we all want to be part of the win, right? And we preach on how important all three phases are and special teams is just as important as offense and defense and we take a lot of pride in what we do in New Orleans here. And we carry that to the game. And all we can do is do our best to help the team win. So, that's what we're going to try and do."
I don't know if you're the right person to ask this just because you make these kicks anyhow. But there's a stat about kickers across the league hitting on more 50 yard field goals than ever. And I'm just curious if there's anything different about kicking in an empty stadium that maybe takes some nerves out of the process and maybe is aided with that?
"I don't know. I can't speak for everyone else. I do feel like, so far this year, I've done well at not noticing any noise. And even when there's 75,000 people, I think, as a kicker our best attribute is we are able to zone those crowd noises out. And I think I was actually just talking to Thomas (Morstead) about this earlier, I just feel like there has not been a huge difference as far as when we are actually doing out there on the field. So, I think that's one of my best attributes, is being able to really zone out the crowd noise and, obviously there's no crowd noise (now). So, I don't really pay attention to it either. But no, I will say I think there's a lot of talented kickers in this league and it's showing this year. I think it was a little weird, no preseason games, there was a slow start for a lot of people. But with the talent we have in the kicker position this year I think the sky's the limit."
Has that been something you've just always been able to do? Is zone it out? Or is that kind of like a mental toughness you develop to kind of take yourself somewhere else out of that? Or is it just natural?
"I don't know that there's a correct answer to that. I think everyone develops that differently. I think, for me, it is just obviously the more kicks you get under your belt, the more high pressure situations you are in, you kind of start to develop the ability to treat everything the same. And we went through a lot my rookie year. And I credit that year, and the team sticking with me and really being able to push myself through those situations. I really credit that to be able to, you know, kind of go out there and treat every kick the same and it really gets me to where I am today."
I can't remember if we've asked you this before, but did you grow up a big Falcons fan? And if not, I mean, just what do you kind of remember about that rivalry just growing up, you know, growing up there?
"Growing up in Atlanta, I grew up an Atlanta sports fan. My parents went to the University of Georgia. So, when it came to football, my team was the Georgia Bulldogs. But, I went to Atlanta games growing up, I pulled for them when it came time. But, obviously that has changed quite a bit over the last few years. But, it's cool being able to play in my hometown. In college, I played in the old Georgia Dome. So obviously, anytime we play Atlanta, it's special for me."