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The Redskins could have an advantage with a less 'accurate' kicker

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The Redskins could have an advantage with a less 'accurate' kicker

Why would the Redskins cut an accurate field goal kicker like Kai Forbath?

It could not have been an easy call for Jay Gruden and Scot McCloughan to make. The 2015 Redskins are likely to be in a lot of close games and Forbath has come through for Gruden. Last year, three of the team’s four wins came on Forbath field goals either in the late going or in overtime.

But Forbath's field goal accuracy came at a cost. Forbath has struggled with his kickoffs during his NFL career. Last year he was 31st in the league in both percentage of kicks that went for touchbacks and average net kickoff distance.

“We were looking for a little bit of a stronger leg, especially on kickoffs,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”

But is Gruden potentially trading points for touchbacks? While we don’t know how new kicker Dustin Hopkins will do since he has no regular season NFL experience, if he can kick touchbacks consistently, the Redskins could be ahead of the game if he is even a below-average field goal kicker.

First of all, let’s dispose of the notion that Forbath is one of the most accurate field goal kickers in the game. Last year he was ninth in the NFL among kickers who had enough attempts (16) to qualify. He was good on 24 of 27 attempts, 88.9 percent. That’s fine, but not great (six kickers were over 90 percent) and, really, not very significant. Here’s why.

Let’s look at the Rams’ Greg Zuerlein, who ranked 26th with a field goals success percentage of 80.0. Is Forbath a better field goal kicker? Well, if Zuerlein had the same number of attempts as Forbath last year, he would have made 22, two fewer than Forbath. Depending on when those missed field goals happened, they could have been costly.

But if you look closer, you’ll see that Zuerlein attempted seven field goals of 50 yards or longer and made five of them. Forbath had zero attempts from 50 or longer. So two of Zurlein’s misses came on kicks that Forbath didn’t even attempt, presumably because they were out of his range. In the third quarter against the Dolphins, the Redskins were up 10-7 and had a fourth down at the Miami 36. With Forbath as their kicker, they punted and got a touchback. With a kicker with a stronger leg like Zuerlein they could have tried a 54-yard field goal and would have had about a 71 percent chance of taking a 13-7 lead that would have changed the complexion of the rest of the game.

Let’s look at the factor that Gruden cited, kickoffs. Last year Forbath had a net kickoff average (gross yards minus return yards and touchbacks X 20 yards) of 40.7 yards. Zuerlein’s average was 44.6. Rounding to the nearest yard line, an average Forbath kickoff ended with the other team taking possession at the 24 while Zuerlein’s ended up at the 20. Big deal? On one individual kick, maybe not. Over the course of a season it adds up.

According to some numbers crunchers who are much smarter than I am, a team that starts a drive that starts on the 24 has a 17.6 percent chance of scoring a touchdown and a 10.9 percent chance of making a field goal. For a team starting on the 20, the TD chances are 16.4 percent and 10.1 for a field goal. The average NFL team kicked off 81 times last year. So on average, following kickoffs the team that kicks to the 24 will allow 14 touchdowns and nine field goals while the team that kicks to the 20 will allow 13 TDs and eight field goals.

You don’t have to be a genius numbers cruncher to figure out that the defense giving up 10 fewer points with a kicker like Zuerlein slightly more than compensates for the six points lose being less “accurate” in field goals than Forbath. If you add in the chance that Zuerlein gives the team to score on an attempt from over 50 yards out the advantage goes to the less “accurate” kicker with the stronger leg.

Looking at it right now, we don’t know if Hopkins will miss a makeable field goal in a clutch situation. But in the big picture, if he can hit on 80 percent of his field goals, give the Redskins a chance to score when they get inside the opponent’s 40, and have opponents starting drives at the 20 more often than not, the move could end up being a net plus for Gruden and the Redskins.

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Redskins draft countdown: Can Temple's Haason Reddick make the move from end to LB?

Redskins draft countdown: Can Temple's Haason Reddick make the move from end to LB?

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 34 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players the Redskins will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how they might fit in Washington.

I am not a scout but I will pass along my observations from watching some game tape of each of the players profiled here.

Haason Reddick

Inside linebacker
Temple

Height: 6-1
Weight: 237
40-yard dash: 4.52

Projected draft round: 1

What they’re saying

Explosive, quick-twitch athlete. Great flexibility with loose hips to turn, twist, and chase. Excellent reactive quickness and change-of-direction agility. Dynamic playmaker in space. Locks onto targets and instantly accelerates to the ball. Finished 2016 regular season with 21.5 tackles for loss. Fluid mover around field. Has chase range over extended territory.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins have devoted major resources to the edges of their defense with free agent dollars and high draft picks going to get Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, and Josh Norman. But the middle—nose tackle, inside linebacker, and safety—remains shaky at best. Reddick could give them an immediate boost in the core of the defense.

At 185 pounds, he walked on at Temple as a safety, bulked up and finished as a two-year starter. Reddick played defensive end and dominated in many games, recording 10.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for a loss. But he doesn’t have the bulk to compete on the edge in the NFL so he will be either an outside linebacker in a 4-3 or an inside backer in a 3-4. The Redskins would have him on the inside in base defense and could have him roam when the go to a four-man line.

Film review: vs. Cincinnati, vs. USF

Reddick played on both sides of the line in two- and three-point stance. He seemed to be more effective standing up; he lacked the size to tangle with the Cincinnati and USF offensive tackles.

He seemed to be a bit slow in recognition. There were times where he reacted after the play already was by him.

Reddick wasn’t asked to cover often but he can drop back and cover a zone. I did not see any man coverage. His backpedal will need work.

He showed good hustle and pursuit, got in on a few plays when lined up on the right side and play went wide to the left.

Against USF he played off the line of scrimmage on about 30 percent of the snaps. He didn’t do anything notable good or bad from there but it was a small sample size.

The bottom line is that it’s hard to see how well he could play at inside linebacker based on the tape. It will take a lot of projection by the scouts, something that I will readily admit is beyond the scope of my capabilities.

Potential issues: After playing defensive end at Temple, Reddick needs to adjust to playing on two feet. Inside linebacker in a 3-4 is a complex position to master and there could be a substantial learning curve involved.

There is a little bit of off-field trouble in his past. He was suspended from the program for three months in 2015 following an off-campus fight but assault charges were later dropped. That appears to be a blip on the radar with no issues reported before or since.

Bottom line: Reddick certainly has great athleticism. Among defensive linemen and linebackers who tested at the combine, Reddick had the best performances in the 40 (4.52 seconds) and in the broad jump (11 feet, 1 inch). It seems that he has the potential to be a good linebacker. And with Will Compton and Mason Foster in place now, Reddick could get some time to develop in Washington.

However, the Redskins defense needs some instant impact. If they want an inside linebacker they might prefer to go with one who is better prepared to contribute now like Zach Cunningham of Vanderbilt or, if he’s available, Reuben Foster of Alabama.

Jay Gruden has expressed frustration about the lack of impact he has been able to get from the team’s last two first-round picks. He could be complaining about a third if Reddick is the pick.

However, if other teams decide to pass on Reddick and he is available in the second round (which seems unlikely after his combine performance but in the draft you never know), the Redskins should give him a hard look.

In his own words:

Reddick on changing from defensive end to playing in space as a linebacker:

I feel really comfortable. At the end of the day, I’m a competitor. That’s what I like to do. That’s what I do. There’s no question about that. It doesn’t matter who they put in front of me, or what they ask me to do. I’m just going to try to do it as best as I can. That’s the approach I took at Senior Bowl.

Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

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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Need to Know: Examining the Redskins' roster locks and bubble dwellers

Need to Know: Examining the Redskins' roster locks and bubble dwellers

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 24, 34 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 23
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 49
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 61
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 113
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 170

Redskins locks and bubble players

Yesterday I looked at players who will not be returning to the Redskins in 2016. Today the focus shifts to the players who are on the roster and separating them into who is certain to be on the Week 1 roster and who is on the bubble.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

Here are the players I see as roster locks:

Offense (15)

  • QB Kirk Cousins
  • QB Colt McCoy
  • RB Rob Kelley
  • RB Chris Thompson
  • WR Jamison Crowder
  • WR Josh Doctson
  • WR Terrelle Pryor
  • TE Jordan Reed
  • TE Vernon Davis
  • G Shawn Lauvao
  • G Brandon Scherff
  • C Spencer Long
  • OT Morgan Moses
  • OT Trent Williams
  • OT Ty Nsekhe

Defense (15)

  • DE Anthony Lanier
  • DE Terrell McClain
  • DE Stacy McGee
  • LB Will Compton
  • LB Mason Foster
  • OLB Junior Galette
  • OLB Ryan Kerrigan
  • OLB Preston Smith
  • OLB Trent Murphy
  • CB Bashaud Breeland
  • CB Quinton Dunbar
  • CB Kendall Fuller
  • CB Josh Norman
  • S Su’a Cravens
  • S D.J. Swearinger

Specialists (3)

  • K Dustin Hopkins
  • P Tress Way
  • LS Nick Sundberg

That totals 33 locks. These are players who are on the bubble; only players who were on the team last year or were notable signings are included here. The other street free agents signed are long shots.

Offense (9)

  • G Arie Kouandjio
  • OL Vinston Painter
  • QB Nate Sudfeld
  • RB Mack Brown
  • RB Matt Jones
  • TE Derek Carrier
  • TE Niles Paul
  • WR Maurice Harris
  • WR Ryan Grant

Most of these bubble players will be watching the draft closely. A quarterback drafted early would be bad news for Sudfeld. A third-round guard could be an ominous sign for Kouandjio. The three I most strongly considered putting the lock list were Jones, Paul, and Harris but too much can happen to call them sure things.

Defense (15)

  • DE Ziggy Hood
  • DE Matt Ioannidis
  • DE A.J. Francis
  • NT Phil Taylor
  • OLB Houston Bates
  • LB Chris Carter
  • LB Steven Daniels
  • LB Martrell Spaight
  • OLB Lynden Trail
  • LB Zach Vigil
  • CB Tharold Simon
  • S Josh Evans
  • S Deshazor Everett
  • S DeAngelo Hall
  • S Earl Wolff

The three closest to being locks here are Hall, Hood, and Spaight. Hall has to show that he can come back from his ACL, Hood could get bumped out by promising draft picks, and Spaight needs to fend off potential draft picks and possibly Daniels and Vigil.

I’ll take another look at this after the draft to see how things shift.

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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