Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Kicking Competition

While the Redskins don't really have any quarterback controversy this season, there is one position that never seems to lack any sort of controversy: kicker.

This is possible to see again. (Photo: betbigdc.com)
Yesterday, while at Redskins practice, Graham Gano and Neil Rackers went head-to-head in a field goal competition. The each attempted nine total kicks from distances of 20 (yards), 29, 32, 37, 41, 49, 51, 53, 57. Gano went 5-9, Rackers went 9-9 (including that 57 yarder).

For the past two years we have been Graham Gano to be a good (not great!) kicker. Just make a few field goals each game when we ask you to. For the most part, he's been close to that.

Last season, he had a field goal percentage of 75.6%. He made all but one of his extra points and even connected on a kick from 59 yards away. Not bad.

Last season for Rackers, however, he had a field goal percentage of 84%. He, like Gano, made all but one of his extra points and his long last season was just 54 yards. His career long is 57 yards and yesterday he hit one from 59 yards in practice.

So, we've got two very similar kickers in terms of stats. There are a few key differences, though.

Gano is 25. Rackers is 35. Gano has always been a Redskin. Rackers has been a Bengal, Cardinal, and Texan. But, there is one more difference between the two...

Clutch Rating. How good are you when the game is on the line? Let's just compare them stat for stat. (These stats are from 2011)

When the final margin of the game is 7 points or fewer. Rackers: 18/21 long of 54. Gano: 17/22 long of 53.

In the fourth quarter. Rackers: 6/7 long of 50 yards. Gano 9/10 long of 47 yards.

When trailing or tied in a game. Rackers: 14/17 long of 54 yards. Gano: 26/34 long of 59 yards.

However, there is one problem when looking at these kickers...we have to think of the offenses that they played with.

In Graham Gano's three seasons in the league, he has had the likes of Rex Grossman and John Beck as his quarterback. In other words, he has played with some of the worst offenses in league history.

For Neil Rackers, however, has had Carson Palmer, Kurt Warner, and Matt Schaub quarterback the offenses for his respective teams. He's played with an offense that can get the job done.

The point of the offense is to score a bunch of points. Teams shouldn't have to always rely on the kicker to be the sole source of points. With the Redskins, however, that has been the case. They have had to constantly rely on kicking to score them points and that's not always going to work. Some games that will work. But most games it won't.

So, before we pull the plug on Graham Gano for good, I say we give him one more year. Let him work with an offense that will score some more points. That may take the pressure off and we'll more than likely see his numbers go up.

Instead of the kicker helping the Redskins, maybe the Redskins should try helping the kicker...

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Cardinals Picture of Neil Rackers: cardinalsgab.com