20 questions in 20 days
As we count down to the first game of the Redskins’ season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.
Question 10: Was making Billy Cundiff the kicker a smart move?
The background: Suppose the Redskins played the Cowboys and the Giants won. That’s how the Redskins’ kicking competition played out. Graham Gano went up against Neil Rackers all during OTA’s, minicamp, training camp and the first three games of the preseason. Then, earlier this week, both Rackers and Gano were cut and the Redskins signed Cundiff, who the Ravens had released over the weekend.
Tandler: There wasn’t much difference between Cundiff and Gano last year when it came to field goal percentage. Gano hit on 75.6 percent of his tries, Cundiff on 75.7 percent. Both were among the worst in the league in that department. The Redskins apparently are hoping that Cundiff regains his form of 2010 when he was the first-team All-Pro kicker as he hit on nearly 90 percent of his field goals. If he can do that and continue to hammer his kickoffs into the end zone with regularity like he did on Wednesday against the Bucs, the move will be a good one. But there will be a great deal of criticism and second guessing if Cundiff continues to hit on only three of every four kicks and Gano catches on elsewhere and becomes that team’s long-term solution at kicker. Unfortunately, I see the latter scenario as more likely to play out than the former.
El-Bashir: The Redskins signed Cundiff to a one-year contract this week in the hopes he’ll revert to the Pro Bowler he was two seasons ago, not the 28th ranked kicker he was in 2011 for the Ravens. While a return to form is possible, of course, Cundiff‘s career stats make it seem unlikely. His 89.7-percent conversion rate in 2010 is book-ended by marks of 78.3 and 75.7. (Interestingly, the 32-year-old ranked one spot ahead of Graham Gano, the kicker he replaced, in field goal percentage last season.) Cundiff’s strength is kickoffs. Last season he sent an NFL record 44 kicks into the end zone for touchbacks. His weakness is long field goals. Since 2003, in fact, he’s made only two of his 13 attempts from 50-plus yards. If Cundiff connects on field goals at 80-85 percent, which would put him between 11-20, and consistently boots kickoffs through the end zone, then he will be an upgrade.
20 questions in 20 days
Jammal Brown play this year?
#19 Aug.21—Will Chris Cooley make the team?
#18 Aug. 22—Can Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?
#17 Aug. 23—Is Garçon a No. 1 receiver?
#16 Aug. 24—Can Trent Williams go from good to great?
#15 Aug. 25—Can DeAngelo Hall be a defensive playmaker?
#14 Aug. 26—Can Santana Moss regain his old form?
#13 Aug. 27—Can Orakpo post 15 sacks?
#12 Aug. 28—Will Leonard Hankerson break out?
#11 Aug. 29—Can the Redskins flip their turnover ratio?
#10 Yesterday—How much can Hightower contribute this year?
#9 Today—Was making Billy Cundiff the kicker a good move?
#8 Tomorrow—Will Josh Morgan be worth the investment?
#7 Sunday—What can Jarvis Jenkins contribute?