Redskins bye week grades: Special teams
At times the Redskins look like a team that could make some serious noise in the playoffs and at other times they look like a team that will struggle to make the playoffs. At 4-3-1, they’re still in the thick of things as they catch a breather at the bye. It’s been an interesting couple of months, indeed, and over the next few days CSN Mid-Atlantic reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will hand out their first half grades, position-by-position.
Tandler: Dustin Hopkins was headed for an excellent midterm grade but he failed the last test when he missed a 34-yard field goal that would have beaten the Bengals in London. He also had a miss a week earlier in Detroit when a 45-yarder glanced high off of the left upright. It might be early to call Hopkins shaky but all of a sudden he is less than rock solid.
Punter Tress Way has not been singled out as being a problem but should he be? His gross punting average is 18th in the NFL but his net, factoring in returns and touchbacks, is just 37 yards, tied for 30th. He has only dropped nine punts inside the 20 (T-28th) The expectations are for Way to perform well above replacement level and he hasn’t been.
The return game is what is going right here. Jamison Crowder leads the NFL with 19.2 yards per punt return. His 85-yard TD return in Baltimore was the margin of victory in that game. Will Blackmon has a 16-yard punt return and a 45-yard kickoff return on his ledger.
Finlay: Please, please don't be hindered by recency bias when looking at Dustin Hopkins. Yes, he missed a game-winner in London, but on the season, he's made 18 of 22 field goals and boots just about every kickoff out of the end zone. He's tied for 2nd in the NFL on FGs made and has given the 'Skins a long-distance kicking weapon they haven't had in years.
Crowder is the bright spot on this unit - he gave the Redskins their first punt return TD since 2008 and is a threat on every punt.
There have been problems for the 'Skins specials, namely a kickoff return TD against the Eagles and a momentum switching long return against the Bengals. Specials have been good, but not without their problems. Still, they are better than average.
Consensus Grade: B-
Tandler and JP grade the Redskins at the bye:
- Offensive line
- Wide receivers/tight ends
- Running backs
- Defensive line
- Defensive backs
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