Although more NFL coaches are going for it on fourth down in their own territory, taking some of the value away from the kicker, the position remains an important one in a league where parity reigns and games often come down one possession.
Extra points are no longer automatic, and missed points could come back to bite a team, which the Washington Football Team has experienced this season. As a result, the team decided to cut veteran kicker Dustin Hopkins and signed Chris Blewitt off the practice squad earlier in the week.
Hopkins converted 84% of his field-goal attempts in his six-plus seasons with the Washington Football Team.
This season, though, Hopkins attempted 14 field goals, converting 12 with his two misses coming from 40+ yards. The 31-year-old also missed two extra points, and so after an entire summer of speculation, the team finally decided to make a switch.
Blewitt had his first opportunity to kick in an NFL game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. It was a mixed bag as he went one-for-two on his field-goal attempts and converted one extra point. But to coach Ron Rivera, it was a good start.
"I thought Chris did a nice job, I did. I was pleased to see him," Rivera said. "He drove the ball well. Because of the circumstances a couple of times, I decided to go for the touchdowns, and we could've easily kicked the field goals, but that wouldn't have helped us in terms of needing points to score to get back into the game."
The lone failed attempt by Blewitt came on a blocked field goal by the Packers.
"He [Blewitt] might have drilled that one maybe a little low? I believe it was a 42-yarder," Rivera said. "It's something a first-year guy, a rookie, basically, he'll get better at giving that ball some elevation."
"At the same time, there may have been a little bit of penetration. He [Packers DL T.J. Slaton] did get his hands up. We really haven't had the chance to look at that, so that's speculation on my part."
Blewitt has another opportunity to convince Rivera and the coaching staff that he should be the kicker going forward when Washington travels to the light air in Denver next weekend to play the Broncos.