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Need to Know: Should the Redskins replace kicker Kai Forbath?

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Need to Know: Should the Redskins replace kicker Kai Forbath?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 1 nine days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

Question of the day

We’re going back to the NTK format we’ve been using since last month. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question comes from the Real Redskins Facebook page.

The Redskins have a decision to make regarding Forbath, who has been the kicker since he took over five games into the 2012 season. He is a restricted free agent and the team has the right to present him with an RFA tender offer.

Their deadline is the start of free agency, March 10. They also could attempt to sign him to a contract prior to the start of free agency. Or they could let him walk as a free agent. So there are many options and all of them are in the hands of the Redskins, who do not seem to be particularly eager to lock up the player who would be, as Brian noted, the most accurate field goal kicker in team history is he had enough attempts to qualify. He is 59 of 67 for his Redskins career, 88.1 percent. The Redskins career leader is Shaun Suisham, who was 81 of 101, 80.2 percent. One hundred attempts are needed to qualify.

So why aren’t the Redskins rushing to lock up Forbath? It’s his leg strength. Forbath is fine from shorter distances. But the Redskins were one of only three NFL teams that did not have a field goal made from over 50 yards. Knowing that his kicker’s leg was limited, Jay Gruden only sent Forbath out there for one such attempt. And Forbath’s short-range accuracy really didn’t end up giving him much of an advantage over the league as a whole. In 2014 he was 24 of 27, 88.9 percent. The league as a whole kicked field goals with 84 percent accuracy. Had Forbath kicked with league-average accuracy he would have kicked 1.3 fewer field goals, a loss of four points for the team.

Compare that to potential points given up by the poor field position the Redskins had after they kicked off. Forbath’s net kickoff average was 40.7 yards (31st in the NFL) while the league average was 43.0. According to to this analysis, every yard of field position on a possession is worth about .055 points. Forbath kicked off 54 times so the Redskins in theory lost 6.8 points over the course of the season because Forbath’s kickoffs were not as deep as those of the average NFL kicker.

And compared to the NFL’s best kickoff man, Billy Cundiff of the Browns (yes, the kicker that Forbath replaced), Forbath’s kickoffs result in field position that on average yields 13.3 more opposition points during the season.

This doesn’t mean that they will let Forbath go. They have nine more days to decide if they want to tender him or to sign him to a new contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. They could hold on to him and bring in a serious competitor, someone with a stronger but perhaps less accurate leg and let them duke it out. Another option would be to roll with Forbath and have punter Tress Way, who has a stronger leg, handle the kickoffs. But that option is far from ideal since at this point in his career Way needs to worry more about refining his punting technique; practice time spent kicking off would detract from that.

The bottom line is that the numbers say that the Redskins might gain more than they lose if they get a kicker that can pound the ball through the end zone on a consistent basis and who can boot field goals from 50 yards or more occasionally even if he is a little less accurate on the short kicks than Forbath is. The Redskins may or may not be able to find one and it will be interesting to see what they do with Forbath in the meantime.

Timeline

—It’s been 63 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 196 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 9; Redskins offseason workouts start 50; 2015 NFL Draft 60

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Five takeaways: A lot to like about the Redskins' dominant primetime win.

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Five takeaways: A lot to like about the Redskins' dominant primetime win.

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ 27-10 win over the Raiders:

This was the Redskins best defensive performance since 1991. That was the last time they held an opponent to under 128 total yards. They were physical, smart, determined and they made plays. If not for two turnovers they would have had a shutout. Oakland did not cross the Washington 48 without the benefit of a gift. Just dominant. 

With a strong defense, you can do what you want to on offense. I asked Kirk Cousins how much running for a couple of yards a pop as Samaje Perine was doing early in the game helped the offense. He answered in part by saying that the offense can afford to run for a low average per carry when the defense is playing so well. That's true. A punt isn't a bad play when you are confident that you are likely to get the ball back three plays later. 

Chris Thompson just keeps getting better every week. His patience when he has the ball in his hands and his ability to burst into the opening when it's there are textbook excellent. Oh yeah, his open field speed, which he gets to show off after being patient and cutting is amazing. Even the smaller plays, like two near the end of the half, when he wove his way through the cracks in the defense and then got out of bounds after gaining everything he could, are fun to watch. He is the Redskins' offensive MVP so far. 

Doctson showed why the Redskins drafted him on one flash. Nobody is going to give Josh Doctson an MVP award but we did see his potential when he went up and took that deep pass away from David Amerson for the touchdown. Plays like that make you see why the Redskins drafted him in the first round and why they have been patient with him. He will need to develop consistency but in the meantime, splash plays like that help a lot.

It’s hard to find fault in this one. Normally in these posts, I try to find a positive in a loss and something to be critical of in a win. But it’s really hard to find much to be critical about in the immediate aftermath of this one. Jamison Crowder’s muff of a punt certainly was an issue and perhaps Samaje Perine could have made more out of the line’s blocking for him. But from the defense to Cousins to Thompson to Zach Brown to D.J. Swearinger and many more, it was as dominant a game as we’ve seen from this team in a while. Can they keep it up? Tune in next Monday from Arrowhead Stadium and we’ll find out.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

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With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. — It took a while, longer than likely anyone expected, but Josh Doctson's first career touchdown catch may just have been worth the wait.

In the third quarter of the Redskins' 27-10 win over the Raiders on Sunday night, Kirk Cousins lofted a deep ball from a bit beyond midfield toward Doctson, who was being boxed out by David Amerson. And as the pass made its descent, Amerson went up to go snag it.

There was just one problem for the corner: Doctson went up and got to it first.

The result? A 52-yard touchdown that made the score 21-0 in favor of the hosts but, far more importantly, opened — quite forcefully, too — everyone's eyes to the sheer talent No. 18 possesses.

MORE: WHY THE DEFENSE'S EFFORT WAS SO ENCOURAGING

"I just made the play," the second-year wideout said afterward, about as nonchalantly as he made the TD look even though it absolutely wasn't. "It was pretty simple to be honest."

Against the Eagles and Rams in Weeks 1 and 2, Doctson suited up for Washington's offense but wasn't involved at all. And in the early going vs. Oakland, it again looked like he'd walk off the field with the same statline as an inactive player, on the verge of facing more questions about why he isn't producing. 

But that all changed on one jump-ball, which is exactly what his head coach has been anxiously waiting for.

"I think it was some relief for him," Jay Gruden answered when asked about the highlight. "I think the players have seen him do that in practice quite often but nobody else has... It wasn't a perfectly thrown ball, but to give him a chance where he can go up and make a big time catch, hopefully we'll get more of that."

RELATED: REDSKINS PLAYERS SIT AND KNEEL DURING ANTHEM

Doctson's QB, who gestured toward him during the post-score celebration as if to say There's the dude you've all been hearing about for months, certainly appreciated it.

"I do like Josh's ball skills and his ability to catch the ball up in the air and I thought, 'You know what, I'm going to give him a chance, they have been asking me to give him that chance and let's give it to him," Cousins said.

As fans of the team know all too well by now, Doctson isn't someone that can be counted on yet. He's oft-injured, and the grab he made over Amerson, while spectacular, was just the third of his career. 

But that sequence provides hope that many more similar to it will follow if he continues to stay healthy and gains more of Gruden's and Cousins' trust this year. He's still far from validating his 2016 first-round selection, but it's now obvious he has the skills to distance himself from those who so badly want to label him a bust.