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Oh… The Redskins Kickers (Rant)

By Mark Solway | October 10th, 2012

I admit it, I’m frustrated, I’m fed up, I’m exasperated – hang whatever you want on me – I’m sick and damn tied of my ulcer bleeding every time the Washington Redskins attempt a field goal.

I don’t have anything against Kai Forbath at all, but to me, he is just another in a very, very long line of terrible kicking decisions in the nation’s capital.

You can call that condemnation harsh all you want, the franchise’s track record speaks for itself.

The only time I have felt even remotely good about the Redskins kicking situation since Chip Lohmiller, was when Shaun Suisham was the Redskins kicker.

I freely admit that the fact that he is Canadian and his family live less than 100 miles from me had to do with my INITIAL kicker crush, but I think Suisham was the best kicker we kicked out of town since David Akers (after one game). I’ll also gladly admit that at the time that the Redskins released Suisham, he had missed two very costly makable kicks; but I’ll also point out that at the time, that put him at 18-for-21 on the season (in December). He was very average in 2008, but other than those two misses, he had been solid in 2009.

Suisham caught on with the Steelers and has rolled back into top form. I’ll add here that he was the AFC Special Teams Player of the last week, after kicking a walk-off game winning field goal against the Eagles. He’s now 8-for-8 on the season. It kind of bears mentioning.

I struggle to see how the Redskins kicking situation is anything but dysfunctional. One need not look any further than the 2012 training camp to see as much evidence as you need. Washington re-signs Graham Gano in the offseason, but brings in veteran Neil Rackers to compete at training camp – okay, I’m with you so far. Gano has a big leg, but really has seemed to struggle with pressure kicks. His kickoffs are good. Rackers has always been reliable, and while he may have a little less leg this late in his career, he can be relied on for the ‘gimmes’ regardless of the situation.

Of course the preseason ends up providing almost ZERO opportunity for the two kickers to go head-to-head, and the Redskins are left looking at nothing but ‘practice results’ – hardly ideal when the knock on the one kicker is his head and not his foot. Rackers did miss one of his two attempts I will add, while Gano didn’t even get to make an attempt.

So I guess based on that miss, the Redskins cut Neil Rackers.

Gano breathes a sigh of relief, but a very, very short one; less than 24 hours after cutting Rackers, the Redskins cut Gano too.

They turn around and sign Billy Cundiff who the Baltimore Ravens had just released – a guy that while steady for the franchise in year’s past, had waned, and whose last kick of record, was a 32-yard miss in the final minute of the AFC title game, that the Ravens ultimately ended up losing.

Now ALL of that could even maybe be understood, without the following one caveat – THERE WAS STILL ONE GAME TO GO IN THE PRESEASON!

*It’s okay to pause and scratch your head here*

What in the blue hell did the Redskins need to cut ANYBODY for, when there was still a week left in the preseason? Bring Cundiff in, AND keep Rackers for the last game (where there ended up being more field goal attempts than the 3 previous games combined), and let all three of them continue to go head-to-head.

Don’t hang some crap story about how roster slots are valuable at that time of the year either – you know what else is valuable? Having a damn kicker than you can count on to kick 31-yard field goals week in and week out!

Even if you need to cut Rackers, to bring Cundiff in for the shot – do that, don’t just bring in some guy you haven’t even seen kick this season, and chuck out what you have been watching for a month straight. Where’s the logic in that?

The fact is that there continues to be a complete lack of emphasis placed on the value and importance of a reliable kicker, and then people want to bitch and moan, when the guy they cheesed out on, can’t be counted on.

That’s bullspit.

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t butter both sides of the bread. Either stop short-changing your kicking situation, or admit that you just don’t give a crap…

… until it matters.

The Redskins further exacerbate a seemingly ridiculous situation by stating that their reasons for selecting Cundiff, have a lot to do with the fact that he is excellent on kickoffs. (Who cares if he can do the primary job – put points on the board?)

We all know how Cundiff worked out. Arguably one of the worst 12 kick spans in any NFL kicker’s career – 7 for 12 – including TWO misses from just 31 yards.

Welcome to now.

The Redskins sign Kai Forbath. Unless you are a college football nut, or went to UCLA like he did, then you probably didn’t know who he was until yesterday. He was released by Tampa Bay this year, despite going 5-for-5 in the preseason. I’m sure that Kai is a nice young man, and I don’t at all mean to make him the butt of my chagrin. He isn’t a cause, he’s just a symptom.

One knock on Kai coming into the bigs was that he didn’t do kickoffs. He was very solid for the Bruins, but he did not kick off for them.

Are you kidding me?

So now not only do you bring in a guy that may very well have shown a strong leg in college, but that hasn’t yet ever kicked in a regular season NFL game, you brought in one that doesn’t kick off?

Do I have to rewind back to remind the Redskins braintrust that you wanted to sell me the (obviously) false bill of goods that Cundiff was selected FOR his kickoff abilities?

I think we just slipped into the sublime.

I truly do hope that Mr. Forbath can come in and succeed, and not struggle with any part of his game – but if he does, why on earth would anyone be surprised?

Don’t try the ‘going young’ and ‘has a lot of upside’ with me either. You don’t go young, and look at upside in the middle of October. Those are the kind of organizational decisions you should be making in June through August.

But if you DO find yourself in the unenviable position of needing to find a kicker just 6 games into a season, how do you not cut your losses, take a proven entity, and one that can fulfill ALL the elements of his NFL duties?

It’s easy to look at the high side of this and see the benefits of Kai doing well, but it’s downright irresponsible not to accept the ramifications of it NOT working out. The Redskins aren’t 0-5, they’re 2-3 and have a pretty exciting young quarterback, that has had them in every game. To the point where the kicker has been needed, and his subsequent ineptitude has proven quite costly.

Do we wait one or two games if Kai struggles? Does it matter, or are we back on the ‘all youth’ train again with the kicking position? (Wasn’t relevant when you cut 25-year old Gano) Does choosing Forbath over any new kicker coming out this year, really provide the Redskins something truly invaluable in the true long term?

I doubt it.

There were still veteran options – on top of proven NFL kickers that aren’t currently employed, Rackers and Gano were both still available – again, you have had these guys in front of you kicking before – have you really even scouted Forbath since college?

Or did you just look at the fact that he was 5-for-5 in 2012, young, and available; and pull another in yet a very, very long line of impetuous decisions?

The time has come to stop pussy-footing around the deplorable kicking history of the last 20 years. I don’t care how little people want to admit it, having a strong, reliable kicker isn’t a luxury, it’s essential if you want to succeed in a league driven by parity.

As long as the Redskins continue to give the position little or no credence at all, it will continue to be a constant source of lost victories.

Nineteen kickers in 18 years…


Categories Posted In | Washington Commanders |

5 Responses to “Oh… The Redskins Kickers (Rant)”

  1. Bullspit?
    I can define that in two words…

    Danny Smith.

    He has to go.

  2. Bring back Elam! HAIL!

  3. Danny Smith hasn’t been here for 20 years, and Danny Smith isn’t the one missing 31-yard field goals. If you want to take a rip at Danny, I have no problem with that, but I don’t personally think he’s responsible for this at all. This has become a culture of futility in D.C. as it pertains to kickers… each one as insignificant, and unacceptable as the last.

    You have to BELIEVE that a kicker is worth the time and energy it takes to find ANY OTHER position of importance; otherwise, you end up with a big pile of dog poop for a couple of decades.

  4. Dudley DoRight
    on October 11th, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Never understood the problem with Gano. Smith would tell him to directional kick to pin the returner to one side or the other of the end zone. Gano would kick it out of bounds giving the other team the ball at the 40. He just wasn’t a directional kicker. Period. Is that Gano’s fault? Partially… but it’s Smiths too for knowing he couldn’t do it. Regardless give me a guy who cam make a 59 yard field goal and is only 25 years old over some guy 32 who can’t make better than 7 of 12. none of the five blocks were on Gano..they were on the line blocking failures. As for Foreskin…well not kicking off even puts him further behind Gano. As for Groza awards and all coming out of college at least Gano was the equivalent of Foreskin and kicked off to boot. So in a month when the Skins go full circle and bring back Gano what will be the excuse then?

  5. IMO Gano’s problem is his noodle, not his leg. He hasn’t shown that he has what it takes to make the pressure kicks – but I agree that that’s the only knock on him, and that puts him miles ahead of Billy Cundiff, and in all likelihood, Kai Forbath too.

    And I totally agree with you ‘Dudley’, that in a month if this fails, we somehow made a joke of a kicking situation, an even bigger joke.

    I guess then we’ll go hunting for a proven NFL entity, that can kick off and is available… someone like Neil Rackers. Hey, wait a minute…