Entering the preseason, Graham Gano knew he would have stiff competition for the Washington Redskins’ placekicking duties. He finished the 2011 NFL season making only 31 of 41 field goal attempts for Washington, prompting the team to sign veteran kicker Neil Rackers back in April. On August 27, Rackers was released, leading many to assume that Gano would be the Redskins’ placekicker once and for all.
But, as ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso might say, “Not so fast, my friend.” On August 28, the Redskins released Gano and signed former Baltimore Ravens placekicker Billy Cundiff. Of course, Washington head coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen are much more experienced at managing NFL talent than I am. However, this move certainly left many scratching their heads in bewilderment.
Sure, Gano’s field goal percentage of 75.6% didn’t inspire much confidence in the Redskins’ faithful in comparison to Cundiff’s 75.7% field goal percentage (28 of 37). However, Gano was effective when he attempted field goals of 50 yards or more, connecting on 4 of 6 in 2011. In comparison, Cundiff connected on only 1 of 6 field goals of 50 or more yards. To make matters worse, many NFL fans remember Cundiff missing a 32 yard field goal in the AFC championship game last January. That miss propelled the New England Patriots into the Super Bowl by a score of 23-20.
One would figure that Washington would replace Gano with a more reliable kicker. Nevertheless, Cundiff will be the Redskins’ kicker for the 2012 season. This puts more pressure on rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and the offensive unit to produce more sustained drives that result in touchdowns. If the offense cannot accomplish this task, and if Cundiff’s kicking woes carry into the season, Gano may not be the only kicker getting the boot from the Redskins.