Interview: Chatting it up with Miami Dolphins punter Thomas Morstead
By Matt Serniak
I had the distinct pleasure to be able to have a conversation with Miami Dolphins punter, Thomas Morstead. It was a lovely experience for me. I’m sure it was just alright for him. It was my first time ever interviewing a professional athlete, but I think I was a regular Dick Schapp out there.
I hope you enjoy the insight that Thomas Morstead gives about such subjects as the science of holding, whether he can bench more than Tyreek Hill and whether or not Mike McDaniel has played Goldeneye with him yet.
A congratulation is in order. Congrats on making the team.
Have you ever had to sweat out a cut day?
"Not really, no. I just always focused on my own job. I just haven’t been in that mindset."
How’s the new facility down there?
It looks like the future. Is it?
"Well you know how that goes. Someone will build a nicer one in two years and then a nicer one will get built four years after that. But it is sweet. It’s got every resource you could possibly ask for to be successful. It’s an amazing facility."
How many times have you gone down the slide?
"A handful. Now that covid is over, I’m hoping that I can get my kids in the facility. I’ve already talked it up to them so they’re waiting for their opportunity so I’m looking to do that at some point."
Do all your teammates love the slide and ever say “hey, I’ll catch up with you in two minutes. I have to hit up the slide real quick?”
"I don’t know if guys go out of their way to use the slide. Sometimes it’s a quicker, funner way down the stairs."
You’re done punting for the Saints. What made you choose Miami besides Miami, geographically, being awesome?
"I just thought it was the best chance to go to a winning team. It’s something that I knew that if we weren’t going to have the family here full time I knew it was a reasonable place with non-stop flights back and forth. I’ve never heard of anybody complain about living near the beach. It just seemed like a fun, new adventure. My kids are excited about it. And to go to a team that at least feels like we have the opportunity to make some noise this year is nice."
You choose Miami. You get to OTAs. You meet Jason Sanders and you meet Blake Ferguson. How do the conversations go in terms of the three of you getting together and going through the procedure of snapping the ball, you hold the ball and Sanders kicks it and who gets the last say on how the process is going to go?
"Number one, those conversations happen before I sign. Not after. In a way you’re kind of interviewing each other. Not that they had a choice in the matter so much. It was more me making sure there was good energy, good communication. Just like any time you’re getting a new job somewhere or moving somewhere. If you have a chance to get some information and have a little more certainty as to what you’re potentially about to jump into, I think it’s foolish not to pick up all those different rocks and see what’s underneath. A lot of those conversations happened before I signed and obviously I felt good about Blake and Jason and coach Crossman."
I feel like a lot of people take holding for granted. What’s the sweet science of holding and what kind of thing should not do to hold a ball for a kicker?
"Well I guess there’s two ways to talk about that. Number one, every kicker has their own way of kicking that’s personal to them and because of that they each have their own way of seeing the ball. How it should be leaned, different little details. Every kicker has their list of wants.Take out the specifics of what each individual wants as a general rule of thumb. If you can give a consistency to how you do what you do. And the kicker can develop a trust and comfort in that. That’s really important regardless of what you actually want the end product to be.A general rule of thumb is the faster and quicker I can give Jason his final picture. If it takes me to get the ball on the ground in 0.6 seconds or if it takes 0.8 seconds. I’d rather it take 0.6 seconds because it gives him a longer time for him to approach the ball to see it and to see if there’s anything wrong with it. He gets a longer time to process that and make an adjustment in his swing before making contact.My job as a holder is to facilatate exactly what he wants and doing that in a steady manner even if something is a little off that he’s still going to strike the ball with confidence. We’ve developed a trust and that’s very important."
Who’s better at holding? Punters or quarterbacks?
"I think the real question is who spent more time holding? There’s a reason almost every team has their punter holding because we spend all our time together. There’s an advantage having kicked. I know if the wind is a crosswind from right to your left as opposeed to your left to right. That may change the way you lean the ball because you can kind of take the draw or fade out of the ball without the kicker having to change their leg swing. So there’s some nuacnes to the game of kicking that if you haven’t kicked before at a high level you really wouldn’t be aware of."
Retired quarterbacks get on TV and say that there is a fraternity of quarterbacks and that they have each other’s backs and all the quarterbacks monitor each other. Is there a fraternity of punters?
"There’s no explictly labeled fraternity but I think most guys that are in the league follow each other and keep up with how they’re doing and there’s certain guys that came from different specialist coaching trees. I came from the Jamie Kohl coaching tree of specialists and it’s the biggest tree out there so there’s alot of us together in July before training camp. We compete with each other when we get together. We’re all pulling for each other to do well and it’s kind of a little brotherhood."
I feel like every position group kind of has that.
"It’s like any kind of commonality. Specialists get together. All the people who played at your university. Those guys tend to get together. It’s just a common bond. So yeah, there’s definitely a little bit of a fraternity for sure."
This is not the first time that you’re on a team with Terron Armstead. Begs the question, who’s the top T. Stead on the Dolphins?
"I think the most valuable T. Stead is the guy getting paid $20M a year. All I can say is that he’s a phenomenal human being. He’s obviously a great player. He checks all the boxes and he’s a guy you want in your locker room. The Dolphins are very very fortunate to have him on the team."
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Tyreek Hill might be faster than you. Not confirmed, but he might be faster than you. But can you bench more than him?
"I don’t know how much he benches. I don’t know how I’d make that claim. But I think it’s a discredit to him if I try to compare myself to him in any way. The guy does something at practice everyday that you just say wow."
He can’t kick the ball better than you right?
"I haven’t seen him kick yet so I’m not going to make that claim."
We’ve seen pictures of you working out and you’re an absolute adonis out there. How did you decide that your body is your temple, that you’re going to keep it that way and stay in this league as long as you can?
"I appreciate that and I take that as an compliment. I didn’t start lifting until the Summer before I went to college. We had an Olympic lifting program and I really struggled with it because I never really done it before and I didn’t really eat properly. I stuck with it for six weeks and then I started to notice the ball going farther. I’m an engineering major in school so it was like a math equation for me and I was like I’m going to keep doing this.I just saw that if I do X then the Y happens. It was a way that I separated myself by the way I trained and took care of myself. That’s been another 14 years of learning how to adjust to the aging process and learning about your body, nutrition, sleep, and all of the recovery stuff that there is.And you hit on it already. The want and the desire to keep playing is there and the only way for me to do that is to be more commited than anyone else is. It’s an amazing opportunity to be 36 and be playing in the NFL."
How cool is Mike McDaniel?
"He is very cool. He’s the first coach I’ve had that is very close to my age. You can tell that I’m from the same genertion. I love his authenticity. You want to talk about someone with confidence. He has got it. But it’s real. And I think in his mind he’s not only paid his dues but he’s developed a process that’s gotten to this point that has led to success whereever he’s been."
How often does Mike McDaniel pull you and other players into his office just to play Goldeneye?
"We haven’t done that one yet. But it would be an epic epic move because Goldeneye was one of my favorite video games from back in the day."
What personal goals do you have for yourself this season?
"I want to provide an elite level of consistency. That’s always been a personal goal of mine. It’s not quantifiable but I just want to bring an elite level of consistency to everything I do. I want the coaches and the players on the team to know what they are getting from me.And then number two, as a general rule I’ve always shot to be in the top five in net punt average at the end of the season. I haven’t always achieved that but I have been in the top 10 for 12 consecutive years. So top five in net has always been a standard that I’m shooting for. But like I said, I want to be at an elite level of consistency every week."
Well me and the rest of Dolphin nation we’re pulling for you and nothing but the best. We’re actually hoping that we never see you punt.
"Here’s what you should pull for; everybody always says hope you never punt. That’s actually a false thing to hope for. The hope should be that all of our offensive drives ends in a special teams play. If we are either punting, kicking a field goal, or trying an extra point and we don’t ever turn the ball over, we’ll win every game."
If the drive ends in a kick, you’re doing something right.
I can’t wait to see Thomas Morstead hitting moonballs out there in a few Sundays. I still would rather not ever see him ever punt a ball. But like we agreed on; if the drive ends in a kick that’s fine.
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