RICHMOND—The Redskins made an unusual change last year. After Kai Forbath went one for two on field goals in the season opener they abruptly jettisoned their kicker of nearly three full seasons and brought in Dustin Hopkins. His opening kickoff in the Week 2 game against the Rams was his first in an NFL regular season game.
They decided to go with the very green Hopkins over Fortbath, who had been their kicker since they signed him five games into the 2012 season. Forbath was an accurate kicker—he led the league hitting 94.4 percent of his field goals in 2012—but he didn’t have a strong leg. He struggled on field goals from over 50 yards and in 2014 he hit just 33 percent of his kickoffs for touchbacks, 31st out of 32 qualifying kickers in the NFL.
Hopkins was two for four on field goals attempts from 50 or more yards. That gave Hopkins as many field goals from that far out in 15 games as Forbath did in 41 games in Washington.
Perhaps more importantly he pounded 65 percent of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. That helped the Redskins’ shaky coverage teams, giving them about two thirds of their plays off.
His biggest play last year came in a losing cause. He launched a 52-yard field goal to tie the game against the Falcons as time expired. The Redskins ultimately lost in overtime but it was still a big moment for Hopkins.
He put his big leg on display again here yesterday. Early in the special teams only practice he boomed a 63-yard field goal. As you can see from the video the ball hits well up the net; it probably would have been good from at least five yards further.
On another kick he hit a camera operator who works high above the field behind the goal post on top of a crane-like mechanism.
“We weren't even live yet,” said Hopkins. “I was warming up and Julian was up there filming and he always gives me a hard time about possibly hitting him. The ball squeezed through the crane railing. He gave me the business afterward.”
There isn’t a challenger to Hopkins in camp so he has to push himself to stay on top of his game. The long field goal and the high kick to the crane indicate that everything is going well so far
Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 21, 96 days before the NFL draft.
—NFL franchise tag deadline 39
—NFL free agency starts 47
—First Sunday of 2017 season 232
The Redskins week that was
A look back at the week with some of the top posts on RealRedskins.com and on CSNmidatlantic.com.
An early look at 1st-round draft possibilities for the Redskins—This post marked 100 days until the draft and now were a few days closer. It’s very early but the preliminary big boards make it look like the Redskins are likely to have a defensive lineman such as Solomon Thomas of Stanford or Mailk McDowell of Michigan State wind up as the best available player so that both the fans a Scot McCloughan can be happy.
Cap room a dilemma for Redskins McCloughan?—There is plenty of talk about how expensive Kirk Cousins’ contract or franchise tag will be and how the expense could affect the ability to spend in other positions. But the team has $62 million in cap space. If they don’t spend a good chunk of it on Cousins what will they do with it? They could bring back Pierre Garçon, Chris Baker and make new deals for eligible 2014 draft picks like Bashaud Breeland and Morgan Moses and still have a lot left over. If they don’t spend it a quarterback, what will they do with it? I do know that if they have, say, $20 million in cap space left and they are around .500 again, the fans and media will not be happy.
Projecting the Redskins 2017 roster—Offense—The changes on this side of the ball will feel more like reloading than rebuilding. I’m assuming Cousins will be back one way (long-term deal) or another (tag). At least four out of the five O-linemen are set and the tight ends will get set if McCloughan can lure Vernon Davis back. We’ll see if the running back corps gets shaken up in the draft or in free agency. The one area that could be wide open is receiver and even that could remain relatively stable if Garçon returns.
3 of 4 Redskins named to Pro Bowl won't attend—I think fans generally have become much more apathetic about Pro Bowl selections compared to, say, seven or eight years ago. Playing in the exhibition game is an “honor” that so many choose not to accept or, as was the case with Brandon Scherff, Ryan Kerrigan, and Jordan Reed, they are too injured after a 16-game season to take part. Meanwhile, alternates Cousins, Josh Norman, and Jamison Crowder (as a kick returner) have not yet heard their phones ring. Why does the NFL even bother with the Pro Bowl? People still watch it. Ratings for the last edition (4.5) were about a point lower than the MLB All-Star game (5.4) and a tick above the NBA All-Star game (4.3). Those are not huge ratings but big enough to turn a profit.
The early odds on what happens with Redskins and Cousins—I think that the first offer that both sides make here is going to be critical. If the Redskins lowball Cousins again it will set a bad tone. If Cousins’ offer is too high the Redskins could think that Cousins is determined to leave. And both sides need to be willing to negotiate. If any of that took place last year there was very little. With no give and take the talks will go nowhere.
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Well it looks like the name many considered to be the Redskins top choice at defensive coordinator is off the market. Adam Schefter broke the news of Gus Bradley to the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Redskins interviewed Bradley early in their process of selecting a new defensive coordinator. His latest gig ended poorly after he was fired as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but Bradley's best success came as defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks.
When he served in that role with Seattle, Bradley worked with Scot McCloughan. And prior to his coaching stint in Seattle, Bradley coached in Tampa, where he worked with both Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden.
Those connections, and his success in Seattle, had many fans hoping Bradley would take over for Joe Barry, who Washington dismissed more than two weeks ago.
The connection between Bradley and the Chargers comes as no surprise, and it leaves Washington still in need of a defensive boss.
Mike Pettine probably jumps to the top of the ranks of other coaches the Redskins have interviewed, but it still seems internal candidate Greg Manusky could be in position to move up to coordinator. Manusky spent the 2016 season as outside linebackers coach and has prior coordinator experience.
The Skins have also interviewed Dennis Thurman, last of Buffalo, Jason Tarver, last of San Francisco, Rob Ryan, also last in Buffalo, and John Pagano, last with the Chargers.
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