Posts Tagged ‘special teams’

Graham Gano is the latest in a long line of bad to mediocre Redskins kickers

December 15, 2010

Redskins kicker Graham Gano probably won't be signing autographs for Redskins fans next year. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

Is Graham Gano the worst kicker in the NFL?  There’s no doubt that he is – the statistics back that up.  Gano has missed 10 field goals on the year, which leads the NFL.  But a more important question to ask would be:  How much better would the Redskins have been in recent seasons with kickers who were merely average or above average instead of bad?

Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gano missed two field goals that any high school kicker should make.  Either of the chip shot field goals Gano missed, a 24 and a 34-yarder, would have given the Redskins enough points to win a game that they lost 17-16.  Never mind the botched snap and hold on what would have been a game-tying extra point – the Redskins should have never been in that situation.  True, it was rainy, but those are kicks that have to go in.

In fairness, Gano did kick a game-winning 33-yard field goal in overtime to give Washington a 16-13 win over Green Bay.

This brings up an often overlooked issue:  the Redskins have had some of the worst kickers in the NFL during the Dan Snyder era, a time when NFL teams have been so close in talent that special teams can make a huge difference.  Kick returner Brandon Banks has kept the Redskins in several games this season, but during the previous decade, Washington had one of the worst kick return units in the league, and its punters were nothing to brag about either.

(This just in – the Skins today cut Hunter Smith, whose failed hold cost the team an extra point that would have sent the game against the Bucs into overtime.  Smith was one of the worst punters in the league – par for the course for Washington the last 15 years or so.  I might even be underestimating the importance of special teams.  If Skins kickers, punters, and return and coverage units were good the past decade, maybe the Skins would have even averaged 10-6 instead of 7-9.)

This inattention to detail has been symbolic of a franchise that was once known for its blue-collar work ethic, but has gained a reputation of overpaying stars at glamorous positions.

Talk all you want about Tom Brady, but he hasn’t won a Super Bowl without Adam Vinatieri.  Neither has Peyton Manning. So when you complain about questionable coaching decisions or Donovan McNabb, don’t forget double G.

To see the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Trade for Joshua Cribbs

October 11, 2009

Ok, today’s loss to a winless team wasn’t good, but it wasn’t as bad as it seems.  It was on the road and last year the Panthers were 12-4 and 8-0 at home.  The Skins are what we thought they were, a mediocre team.  The defense was pretty good today, but Clinton Portis is getting up there in age, the offensive line was average to begin with without much depth, and we need another good receiver. Santana Moss is a good number one, Antwaan Randle El is a good third receiver, but Malcolm Kelly hasn’t done much and neither has Devin Thomas, and the Skins need a tall target.

In fact, Kelly and Thomas are typical Skins — underachievers. So I think the Skins should trade a draft pick for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Joshua Cribbs.  Cribbs is an amazing kick returner, and with his size and speed he should be a good receiver. He asked to be traded a while ago.  Our return game has been below average ever since Gibbs left the first time.  One of the things the old Redskins were great at was special teams.  Mark Moseley, Mike Nelms, Pete Cronan, Greg Williams, Greg Manusky…

Cribbs is only in his fifth year and he already has 7 returns for TDs, tying Eric Metcalf’s Browns record.  Cribbs, a former college quarterback, is the only player in NCAA history to lead his team in both rushing and passing in four different seasons.  I saw him play a game in college for Kent State against Ohio State, and he kept Kent State close for a half.  I thought he’d be a good pro QB then and might have been had he been given a chance.  He’s not getting a lot of playing time at WR for the Browns, plus they are awful — starting QB Derek Anderson completed two passes today.

Anyway, I think the Skins should trade for Cribbs.  Maybe give up Kelly or Thomas plus tight end Fred Davis and a draft pick. Cribbs could also be the emergency QB.  Cribbs is also local — he played high school football for Dunbar in DC.  I also didn’t know he was the nephew of former Bills 1,000-yard rusher Joe Cribbs.  Pretty cool.

As for the Skins, at this point, they can probably just hope to finish .500.  I don’t think much will save Jim Zorn’s job.  I hope the Skins get Mike Shanahan, or if not, maybe Bill Cowher or Mike Holmgren.  I think Jon Gruden is too arrogant.  I think Russ Grimm would make a great head coach and bring back some of the old Skins pride, but that would make too much sense.  Snyder will want a big name.  Tony Dungy would be great but I couldn’t see him coaching here because I don’t think he’d put up with Snyder.

By the way, in my last post, I defended Snyder somewhat by saying the Skins have been better under him than they were from 1993 to 1998, which is true.  But overall, there hasn’t been enough of a cogent plan.  The Skins draft picks underperform, and they tend to get big name free agents instead of unsung heroes like they used to have.

Make no mistake, the old Skins had tons of talent — Hall of Famers Art Monk, Darrell Green, and John Riggins, plus others who should be in like Gary Clark, Russ Grimm, and Joe Jacoby, not to mention great players like Charles Mann, Dave Butz, Dexter Manley, Joe Theismann, Wilber Marshall, and we could go on.  There were a lot of skill position guys who were there for a few years like Joe Washington, Charlie Brown, Kelvin Bryant, George Rogers, Gerald Riggs, and Earnest Byner.  But there were a lot of players who were free agents or late round picks who went on to be great, whereas now we have name players like Portis and DeAngelo Hall who are just average, and our high draft picks (Kelly, Thomas, and Davis) underperform.