With a new general manager in charge, new faces throughout the lineup as well as new assistant coaches bringing new ideas to the table, the Redskins are a team in transition. Between now and the start of training camp, CSNWashington.com reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the top questions facing Jay Gruden and Co. as they prepare for the season.
Will kicker Kai Forbath be challenged in training camp?
After almost three seasons in Washington, the Redskins know what they’ve got in Forbath. He’s a clutch, accurate field goal kicker but he struggles on kickoffs. The 27-year-old has also missed a handful of games with injuries. There is, however, a reason the UCLA product has survived as long as he has: He puts the ball between the uprights when the game is on the line. Will the Redskins stick with him or search for a more well rounded kicker?
El-Bashir: If Jay Gruden was going to replace Forbath, I suspect he would have done it last year after drafting Zach Hocker in the seventh round. Forbath, of course, outperformed Hocker in the preseason and held onto his job. (Hocker is currently competing for a job in New Orleans, in case you were wondering.)
I don’t see things unfolding any differently between now and the start of the season.
Last year, Forbath made 24 of his 27 field goal attempts (88.9 percent), including seven of his eight tries from 40-49 yards. On kickoffs, however, he only recorded 18 touchbacks, which ranked 26th.
This is where it gets a little complicated. Forbath struggles to force touchbacks, but he’s money when the game is on the line. Case in point: He earned NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors last October after booting four field goals, including the overtime winner, to beat the Cowboys on Monday Night Football in Dallas.
In May, the Redskins signed Alabama-Birmingham kicker Ty Long to push Forbath. And I assume he’ll get the opportunity to show what he can do in the preseason. In college, Long connected on 59 of 77 field goal attempts (76.6 percent) and last season recorded 39 touchbacks on 76 kickoffs. So, yeah, he’s got a big leg. But his inexperience, in my opinion, makes him a long shot to win the job.
Tandler: Yes, Forbath is accurate from inside the 50, but so are a lot of kickers. What Forbath is lacking is a big leg. He did have any field goals from 50 or more yards out last year and he has just two in his career.
I don’t think that Forbath has much to worry about from Long. As Tarik noted, if they were going to go younger and cheaper at kicker they probably would have stuck with Hocker last year.
But that doesn’t mean that Forbath is safe. A couple of misses in the preseason could have Scot McCloughan on the phone, brining in out of work veterans for tryouts.
Eventually, the Redskins might get punter Tress Way to handle the kickoff duties and keep Forbath as a field goal specialist. But they still have work to do to refine Way’s punting technique so the kickoffs may need to wait.
So even if the kickoffs and long-range field goals are lacking, Forbath probably is safe as long as he keeps booting the short field goals. But if that ability goes south, as it sometimes does without explanation, his seat will get very hot very quickly.
Previously on Redskins offseason Q&A:
- Who will start at strong safety?
- Who will return punts and kickoffs?
- Who will be the third down back?
- Which rookie will have the most impact?
- How will the carries be divvied up?
- What will the QB depth chart look like?
- Who will the third running back be?
- Which free agent will have the most impact?
- Which new assistant coach will have the biggest impact?
- What team is the biggest threat to win the NFC East?
- Will Jason Hatcher live up to his contract?
- Who will be the training camp phenom?
- What will the cornerback depth chart look like?
- Can McCloughan be the franchise savior?
- Was Scherff the right pick at No. 5?
- Can Gruden turn it around?