Over the past two seasons, Redskins kicker Billy Cundiff has prevented opposing teams from returning kickoffs a league-leading 84 times by booting the ball through the end zone for a touchback.
On Saturday, Coach Mike Shanahan hinted that putting opposing teams at the 20-yard line will be the Redskins’ objective this season, rather than employing a directional kicking strategy and gambling that his stand out kick coverage unit can stop the returner short of the 20. (Last season, the Redskins’ kick coverage team limited opponents to 20.8 yards per return, the second best mark in the league.)
“Any time you can kick touchbacks, you let him kick touchbacks,” Shanahan said of Cundiff on Saturday. “The 20-yard line to start isn’t great field position, so if you can get that done, that would be a good goal.”
In Wednesday’s 30-3 preseason victory over Tampa Bay, Cundiff forced touchbacks on five of six kickoffs in his debut for the Redskins. Last season in Baltimore, Cundiff set an NFL record for most touchbacks in a season with 44.
“What you always do is look at your personnel,” Shanahan said, asked if the team has changed philosophies on kickoffs. “So, when you say philosophy, it all depends – offense, defense or special teams – what your guys can do best.”