|Cundiff, above, was signed this morning. (Photo: lukehathaway.com)|
Yesterday morning the Redskins announced the release of kicker Neil Rackers. He and Graham Gano were locked in a kicking competition this offseason. With the release of Rackers, it appeared as though Gano had won the job.
Then early this morning, another kicker was brought in: Bill Cundiff. Cundiff was cut by the Ravens just two days ago. Now, we could have said that the Redskins were going to have a one game playoff for the teams place kicker spot.
Graham Gano texted to ESPN 980 and then tweeted that he has been released from the Redskins. So the kickers that we had to start the preseason aren't even on the roster anymore. Instead, a kicker that was cut two days is going to be the starting kicker for the Washington Redskins.
And it makes a lot of sense.
One of the best, and worst, things about the new kickoff rule is that it is almost a guarantee that the returning team will start off at the 20. With Graham Gano, however, that was not so. With Billy Cundiff, however, the Redskins will get more touchbacks out of their kickoff specialist.
In 2011, the first season with the new kickoff rule, Gano had more kickoffs returned (36) than touchbacks (33). About 57 percent of his kicks were returned.
For Billy Cundiff, however, he was dishing out touchbacks before the new kickoff rule. In 2010, he issued 40 touchbacks to just 38 returns. That was when they still kicked from 20 yard line. With the new rule, however, Cundiff put 44 kicks in the endzone for a touchback. He had a touchback percentage of 57 percent. Cundiff also averaged four yards more than Gano on kickoffs.
In 2011, both kickers had eerily similar field goal percentages. Both had a percentages of 75 percent. Cundiff, however, was much better than Gano when he was closer to the goal posts. Let's break it down:
20-29 Yards: Cundiff (9-9), Gano (14-15)
30-39 Yards: Cundiff (10-12), Gano (5-9)
40-49 Yards: Cundiff (7-9), Gano (8-11)
50+ Yards: Cundiff (1-6), Gano (4-6)
PATs: Cundiff (38-38), Gano (25-26 with one block)
So as you can see, this isn't really about field goal kicking. Both kickers are statistically similar with Cundiff having the edge from 30-39 yards away.
Giving the opposing teams offense a long field to work with is very important. For Gano, that was not always the case. He had more kicks returned that touchbacks. Cundiff had 14 more kicks go for a touchback than returned.
This move really doesn't have much to do with field goal kicking ability. Both kickers are too similar for that to be the main reason. Instead, this move has a lot to do with kick-offs and touchbacks. The Redskins have definitely upgraded themselves, however, at the kicker position with by signing Billy Cundiff.
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Source(s): Bleacher Report