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Should the Redskins Punt Their Kicker?

Should the Redskins Punt Their Kicker?

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at rtandler@comcast.net

On the list of players that the Redskins will take a hard look at cutting in their efforts to trim enough salary money to get under the cap is kicker John Hall. His cap number for 2006 is $1.4 million and waiving him would save a net of $780,000. That’s not a huge amount, but three quarters of a million bucks here and there and pretty soon we’re talking about some real money.

Should the Redskins make this move and release Hall, who turns 32 on St. Patrick’s Day?

If it’s strictly a money decision, the answer is probably not. Again, his cap number is fairly significant, but it’s not like the team can go without a kicker on its roster counting something against the cap. A big-name replacement such as the Colts’ Mike Vanderjagt or the Patriots’ Adam Vinatieri would almost certainly count more against the cap than does Hall. Even a lesser veteran such as San Francisco’s Joe Nedney wouldn’t offer much in terms of savings if any at all.

The other route to replace Hall would be to get a few younger legs and let them battle it out in camp. That’s a high-risk strategy, but it’s the only one that will save any significant money.

So, do you get rid of Hall because of performance reasons? The last image of Hall for the 2005 season was him going wide left with a 36-yard field goal that would have brought the Redskins within four of the eventual NFC champion Seahawks in the fourth quarter of their divisional playoff game. That and the five games he missed with a leg injury tend to make many view him as a liability.

What those people forget is that he missed just two field goals during the regular season. To be sure, one was a potential game-winner in the fourth quarter against San Diego, but that was a 52-yard attempt, an iffy proposition for most kickers. He’s not one of these tiny guys who are afraid of contact; he wears a defender’s burgundy jersey at practice while his fellow kickers don the traditional white of offensive players. It’s part of his linebacker mentality.

So the choices are these—pay more for a “star” kicker, go into the large pool of untested kickers and hope you strike gold like the Cardinals did with Neil Rakers or stick with the flawed but known quantity in Hall.

The view here is that, barring some change in the labor agreement that creates some money for the Redskins to go after the likes of Vinatieri, the Redskins are better off sticking with Hall. He’s on a very short list of players I’d like to see attempting a 40-yarder in December to get into the playoffs and the only one that the team can reasonably afford.

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Goal to go situations another problem area for Redskins' defense

Goal to go situations another problem area for Redskins' defense

In the third quarter of the Redskins’ Week 3 game against the Giants, New York drove to a first and goal at the Washington 10. A Trent Murphy sack and two incompletions later, Josh Brown came in and kicked a field goal.

Since then, opponents have had goal to go situations 12 times. They have scored touchdowns on every one of them.

The stop against the Giants was one of just two all year. They had one against the Cowboys in Week 2. Their opponents’ goal to go success rate is 90.5 percent. That’s the second worst in the NFL.

The failures have been costly. On Sunday, the Cardinals recovered a Kirk Cousins fumble and returned it to the Washington 10. The Redskins led 13-10 at the time and coming out of that situation with the game tied would have been large. But on third and goal at the six Carson Palmer hit Michael Floyd with a touchdown pass and the Cardinals had both the lead and the momentum.

Opponents usually haven’t had to work that hard. Teams have run 21 plays in goal to go and they have 10 touchdowns.

On Thanksgiving Day, the Cowboys got to goal to go three times. A stop on any one of them would have been a boost to the Redskins and would have changed the dynamic of the game. But Dallas was three for three.

The goal to go problems are a subset of the Redskins’ problems with red zone defense in general. Opponents have scored touchdowns on 27 of 40 red zone trips, a 67.5 percent success rate that puts the Redskins 30th in the NFL.  

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NFC East Update - Where everybody is losing except the Cowboys

NFC East Update - Where everybody is losing except the Cowboys

The NFC East was a beast for a while, but in recent weeks, the division is fading. All the teams outside of Dallas lost this weekend, and losing streaks are popping up throughout the I-95 Corridor. Here's the NFC East update:

  1. The Minnesota Vikings gave the Dallas Cowboys all they could handle last Thursday night, and yet, the Cowboys won 17-15. Dak Prescott was not impressive in Minneapolis, but Ezekiel Elliott was and the Cowboys defense did just enough to slow the Vikings terrible offense. At 11-1, Dallas has clinched a playoff berth, and with a date in New York this Sunday night, Jerry Jones' crew has a chance to avenge their only loss of the year, which came in Week 1 to the Giants.
  2. It seemed expectations met reality for the New York Giants last Sunday in Pittsburgh. Ben McAdoo's team had won six games in a row, but largely, faced poor competition. In their first tough test since the leaves started falling, Eli Manning's offense could not get going and the Giants fell to 8-4, still in possession of the first NFC Wild Card spot. Even on their win streak, the Giants didn't pass many eye tests. Beat Dallas on Sunday night and all that changes.
  3. Two weeks ago the Washington Redskins were one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Winners of two straight and with a surging Kirk Cousins, the Redskins marched to Dallas on Thanksgiving and gave the Cowboys a real test. Despite the loss, Washington still held its spot with the second NFC Wild Card. After a deflating loss in Arizona, now the 'Skins are on the outside looking in of the playoffs. Good news for Jay Gruden and company: The team can get right back in the thick of things this week in Philly, and the remaining four-game schedule looks advantageous. 
  4. While the Redskins have lost two in a row and are in danger of falling out of the playoff race, the Philadelphia Eagles have lost three in a row and look to be falling apart. Rookie QB Carson Wentz is devoid of offensive weapons to work with and the Eagles have been outscored 85-42 in their last three games. Philly can get their first NFC East win this week with the 'Skins visiting, but it will take a different effort than they've shown in the last month.

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