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Need to Know: Should the Redskins replace kicker Kai Forbath?

Mar 1, 2015, 7:01 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 1 nine days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

Question of the day

We’re going back to the NTK format we’ve been using since last month. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question comes from the Real Redskins Facebook page.


The Redskins have a decision to make regarding Forbath, who has been the kicker since he took over five games into the 2012 season. He is a restricted free agent and the team has the right to present him with an RFA tender offer.

Their deadline is the start of free agency, March 10. They also could attempt to sign him to a contract prior to the start of free agency. Or they could let him walk as a free agent. So there are many options and all of them are in the hands of the Redskins, who do not seem to be particularly eager to lock up the player who would be, as Brian noted, the most accurate field goal kicker in team history is he had enough attempts to qualify. He is 59 of 67 for his Redskins career, 88.1 percent. The Redskins career leader is Shaun Suisham, who was 81 of 101, 80.2 percent. One hundred attempts are needed to qualify.

So why aren’t the Redskins rushing to lock up Forbath? It’s his leg strength. Forbath is fine from shorter distances. But the Redskins were one of only three NFL teams that did not have a field goal made from over 50 yards. Knowing that his kicker’s leg was limited, Jay Gruden only sent Forbath out there for one such attempt. And Forbath’s short-range accuracy really didn’t end up giving him much of an advantage over the league as a whole. In 2014 he was 24 of 27, 88.9 percent. The league as a whole kicked field goals with 84 percent accuracy. Had Forbath kicked with league-average accuracy he would have kicked 1.3 fewer field goals, a loss of four points for the team.

Compare that to potential points given up by the poor field position the Redskins had after they kicked off. Forbath’s net kickoff average was 40.7 yards (31st in the NFL) while the league average was 43.0. According to to this analysis, every yard of field position on a possession is worth about .055 points. Forbath kicked off 54 times so the Redskins in theory lost 6.8 points over the course of the season because Forbath’s kickoffs were not as deep as those of the average NFL kicker.

And compared to the NFL’s best kickoff man, Billy Cundiff of the Browns (yes, the kicker that Forbath replaced), Forbath’s kickoffs result in field position that on average yields 13.3 more opposition points during the season.

This doesn’t mean that they will let Forbath go. They have nine more days to decide if they want to tender him or to sign him to a new contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. They could hold on to him and bring in a serious competitor, someone with a stronger but perhaps less accurate leg and let them duke it out. Another option would be to roll with Forbath and have punter Tress Way, who has a stronger leg, handle the kickoffs. But that option is far from ideal since at this point in his career Way needs to worry more about refining his punting technique; practice time spent kicking off would detract from that.

The bottom line is that the numbers say that the Redskins might gain more than they lose if they get a kicker that can pound the ball through the end zone on a consistent basis and who can boot field goals from 50 yards or more occasionally even if he is a little less accurate on the short kicks than Forbath is. The Redskins may or may not be able to find one and it will be interesting to see what they do with Forbath in the meantime.


—It’s been 63 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 196 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 9; Redskins offseason workouts start 50; 2015 NFL Draft 60

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. sidepull - Mar 1, 2015 at 7:40 AM

    They got rid of his replacement last year. Where is Hocker now?

  2. rlkmwyatt - Mar 1, 2015 at 7:46 AM

    have you heard any comments about bringing the rookie from last season back to compete? It does seem to take some kickers a year or two to ‘mature’ to the NFL level.

  3. troylok - Mar 1, 2015 at 7:52 AM

    Sign the guy to a cap friendly contract and then bring in competition. I remember the years where we didn’t have a field goal kicker that could find the uprights, so, in comparison, Forbath looks better than a lot of kickers.

  4. abanig - Mar 1, 2015 at 8:25 AM

    If they can find a better kicker, yes, but they shouldn’t just do it because the other kicker is younger or has a stronger leg, the kicker has to actually “out kick him” in the offseason. I was so freaked out last year because I thought that they were just going to give Hocker the job because they drafted him. It was dumb choice to draft him, they could have signed him as an UDFA

  5. kenlinkins - Mar 1, 2015 at 9:04 AM

    While it is nice to have a kicker who can give you a touch-back 75% of the time, it is the guys who cover kick-offs who can not stay in their lanes, refuse to break down and hold their position and the gunners who miss tackles far to often that are the problem for the Redskins. If the kicker can place the ball in side the 3 yard line on 95% of his kick-offs and make 88% of his field goals from 48 yards and in, you should hold on to that kicker. Cal Ripken Jr. was a great baseball player because he made every play he should have and not the flashy 6 step to his right deep in the hole ground out. He placed himself in the right position for each batter and didn’t have to try and make a great play due to being out of position. Give me guys who can do their job every time and can be counted on and in the case of kickers that is 85% of FG from 48 yards and in, and place the ball high on kick-offs around the 3 yard line. Blaming the kicker for the Redskins problems on kick-offs is just wrong. Should the Redskins fire the punter also due to the problems on punt returns? (oh wait, the same guys covering kick-offs also covered on punts). The Redskins should go on a major youth movement to find guys who are willing to sell out to make the team by being Special Teams “Stars” and not 3rd string back up one trick ponies at CB, SS, FS, OLB, ILB, WR, and RB. In short, the kickers are not the problem!

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 1, 2015 at 9:15 AM

      Speaking of Cal Ripken, I didn’t mention that Forbath has something of an injury bug. Missed a few games in 2013, couldn’t kick off for several games last year. The most important ability at that position is availability.

      And I simply disagree that the K isn’t to blame for the field position problems. Sure it’s not all on him but if the Redskins get a guy who pounds it into the end zone consistently none of that matters.

      Just because there are bigger problems that doesn’t mean that K isn’t a problem and usually one that can be solved for relatively little money.

      > > >

      • kenlinkins - Mar 1, 2015 at 10:05 AM

        Well, truth be known I was an Eddie Brinkman fan myself. In my book Eddie Brinkman still holds the record for games without an error at SS (as Brinkman didn’t have to have his daddy go to bat for him with the Score Keeper who was paid by the O’s to over turn an error in the 72nd game). I get your point that kicking the ball into the end zone works better than not kicking it there, but I am glad you agree that there are bigger problems to fix. I have no problem with changing kickers as long as he makes 85% of his FG’s from 48 yards and in.

        • Rich Tandler - Mar 1, 2015 at 10:16 AM

          But they don’t measure the best shortstop by his lack of errors. A quality SS has range, too. I liked Eddie too but he rarely dove into the hole to make a stop or ranged up the middle. Guys who can do that help their teams get more outs, which is the object, even if they do commit more errors. You can’t get charged with an error on a ball you don’t get to.

          And a kicker can’t get charged with a miss on a FG he doesn’t attempt. The fact that Kai only tried one FG from 50+ speaks volumes.

          And, to carry the analogy a bit further, Ripken was a better SS than Brinkman because he could hit. Kickoffs don’t have the impact of a three-run homer but there are multiple aspects to the job. Being a below-average on kickoffs can cost you more points than you gain by being an above-average field goal kicker.

          > > >

        • kenlinkins - Mar 1, 2015 at 1:40 PM

          Cal Ripken Jr. was the better all around SS and that is just a fact, but Eddie Brinkman should still have that record. As for your points about weak legged kickers hurting teams, I agree as the math works in your favor, but Eddie Brinkman should still have that record. Ripken was the first of a new breed of SS that could hit with power (more like a 3rd baseman) and still field the ball, but Eddie Brinkman should still have that record!

        • bangkokben - Mar 1, 2015 at 5:15 PM

          Rich was spot on with everything on Forbath. You need a kicker to kick the 55 yard FG at the end of the game. Forbath seems like a modern day Ray Wershing – 49er kicker from all those years ago. Solid inside 45 yards (which is actually the opponents 28) but don’t bother from beyond 50. Thing is the game has changed plenty since then. You need touchdowns to win games – even in overtime. If your within 28 yards to paydirt; score a TD. Why keep four special team aces around if you only need to kick it out of the end zone. Seems like we had the guy in Gano but Shanahan soured on him. In my mind today’s kicker should be a guy who can make the 50+ kicks 75% of the time, is excellent in onside kicks, can consistently kick all the kickoffs, and doesn’t buckle under pressure. The team needs to score touchdowns – use that fourth down to get first downs and more chances at six points.

  6. bowlregard - Mar 1, 2015 at 9:05 AM

    Going back to Norv Turner, the Skins have had a habit of releasing kickers after missing a crucial kick. The one they probably should have held onto was Gano. But replacing kickers every year has contributed to instability. I liked Gruden’s explanation last year, that Forbath needed to keep the job in part to promote continuity. And lord knows we’ve had kickers who did a lot worse than 88%.

    • sidepull - Mar 1, 2015 at 12:55 PM

      Yea we got rid of Akers too. How did that work out?

    • bangkokben - Mar 1, 2015 at 5:18 PM

      How many times did we not attempt a kick because it was over 50 yards and the coach had no confidence in the kicker? That should be figured as a miss and adjusted into his FG%.

  7. obxskins - Mar 1, 2015 at 9:10 AM

    The kicker from Florida State! Dont know about “wasting” a draft pick though..?

  8. John Karahasan - Mar 1, 2015 at 10:03 AM

    Justin Tucker is a RFA. He is a great kicker. Good leg strength, and very accurate. Maybe the skins should give him serious attention. Kicker is a very important position. A good kicker counts for alot of points

    • brucealmty - Mar 1, 2015 at 12:21 PM

      Ravens are not letting Tucker walk. You can take him off your wish list.

  9. goback2rfk - Mar 1, 2015 at 10:23 AM

    With the Redskins lack of ability to get into the endzone, an upgrade at kicker is welcomed

  10. shermanp79 - Mar 1, 2015 at 11:16 AM

    I think they need to make a change. He really doesn’t kick much beyond 50 yards. The good K today attempt several beyond there. They could attempt 2-3 in a game. When we are ready to play some big games, it could be the difference in a win or loss. They clearly wanted to make a change last year. If you Draft a K, you are serious. I bring Hocker back with another person to compete with Forbath. I don’t think he made a K beyond 46 yards??? He basically has to be inside the 30 yard line, compared to the 40 for good K. That 10 yards is significant. It may take time to find the right guy but if you think its close with Forbath, I change now. Get the growing pains out of the way. I bring Hocker back because they saw enough to draft him. Maybe he needed a year. I think they liked enough to have the competition go through camp. If not, they would have cut him much earlier..

    • polofourme - Mar 1, 2015 at 12:04 PM

      Ah I believe that not only does he hold the Redskins record for making consecutive FGs (17) but he also holds the record for longest FG. He is accurate, can hit from outside 50 and he has already demonstrated that…the only real knock on him has been the depth of his KOs but I noted real improvement in that area last year.

      • Rich Tandler - Mar 1, 2015 at 12:09 PM

        Not sure where you got the longest FG thing from but it’s not accurate. He’s not in the top 3, at least. He’s 2-4 career outside of 50, not sure how that’s demonstrating that he can do it. Small sample size, which is an issue in and of itself.

        > > >

  11. scyman89 - Mar 1, 2015 at 11:25 AM

    Why is this always a issue every year? The guy is a solid kicker. He is good! His numbers even prove it. Yes he is going to miss a kick here and there. But the guy is still a great kicker. This is not an issue for the Redskins. I-line and DBs are WAY more of a priority

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 1, 2015 at 11:32 AM

      Thanks for jumping in and commenting. I have to comment on this “priority” thing. The organization can multitask. Finding a better kicker will not consume a tremendous amount of cap space or require the use of a high draft pick.

      Honest, upgrading the kicker won’t have any effect at all on improving the line or any other position.

      • skins4lyfe - Mar 1, 2015 at 1:29 PM

        I think the answer at every position this year is COMPETITION. Forbath is a good kicker and has proven it but if an upgrade can be made to a team that was sub par at getting into the end zone at the kicker position it should be done.

  12. polofourme - Mar 1, 2015 at 12:00 PM

    This is one area of the roster that isn’t broken so no need to fix it when there are so many other areas where the team has basically got to start over. OL, DL, secondary, RB, LB, QB….but we have two pretty good kickers. Forbath is accurate and I saw improvement this year in the depth of his KOs…so don’t waste any time on this part of STs…we have such a weak overall roster, the kicking game is the very least of our problems.

  13. colmac69 - Mar 1, 2015 at 12:09 PM

    Graham gano was gd kicker who had gd distance on kickoffs and fgs perhaps little erratic on shorter fgs,,,,,, one of worst moves shanahan did was release him and he went to panthers and has done decent there

    However im happy with forbath,,,, yes for sure you always looking to improve all aspects of team at any position and as rich says it not cost much to do so,,,, but I dont buy all the statistics that get brought out in regards starting field position and what it means,,,, if we talking 15yrds as difference then you got problems but its only three or four yrds difference, ,, get a better defence for start,,,, indy have their punter koff because vinitiari no longer has length,,,, as far as I can see no reason why way cant koff, ,,,,, however I will take an accurate kicker from bout 45yrds any day of wk,,, in reality how many kicks does kicker attempt over a season from over 50yrds,,, not too many,,,, forbath has proved himself in clutch situations over two and half years,,, and as previous comment made we have went through some bad kickers over last 10-15 yrs

    • bangkokben - Mar 1, 2015 at 5:23 PM

      If you were confident your kicker could make kicks over 50, you’d trot him out there. We are not and as a result punt for field position or at the end of games go for it on 4th down. Thus, very few attempts over 50 yards.

      • bangkokben - Mar 2, 2015 at 5:31 PM

        4-20-JAC 38 (:03) (Shotgun) 8-K.Cousins pass incomplete deep right to 84-N.Paul (26-J.Evans).
        4-10-PHI 41 (1:52) (Shotgun) 8-K.Cousins pass incomplete deep left to 88-P.Garcon.
        4-14-DAL 41 (2:00) (Punt formation) 5-T.Way punts 38 yards to DAL 3, Center-57-N.Sundberg, downed by WAS-34-T.Robinson.
        4-2-NYG 36 (9:45) (Shotgun) 10-R.Griffin sacked at NYG 40 for -4 yards (sack split by 59-D.Kennard and 90-J.Pierre-Paul). FUMBLES (59-D.Kennard), recovered by WAS-78-K.Lichtensteiger at NYG 39.
        4-19-PHI 41 (10:51) 5-T.Way punts 34 yards to PHI 7, Center-57-N.Sundberg, downed by WAS-14-R.Grant.
        4-4-DAL 37 (11:05) (Shotgun) 10-R.Griffin pass short middle to 86-J.Reed to DAL 34 for 3 yards (54-B.Carter; 93-A.Spencer).

        I counted six times where the Redskins would’ve been more prudent kicking and going for the three points had they had a kicker who had a chance at making it. The first at the end of the 2nd half. The second to tie the game with less than two minutes to go. Etc. etc.

  14. shanevalliere19 - Mar 1, 2015 at 1:49 PM

    Can we bring back Chip Lohmiller???

    • Knorway - Mar 1, 2015 at 6:10 PM

      We should give the Norwegian guy that Detroit tried last year a shot, Kickalicious was his name. The Skins have nothing to loose by resigning Forbath and have him kick it out in trainingcamp vs Kickalicious Haavard Rugland. Archives

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