Redskins Quarterly Report Cards: Special Teams

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Updated: October 8, 2013
Report Card

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PLACE KICKER: Last year’s wunderkind Kai Forbath missed one make-able field goal and then got injured after playing only the season opener. Apart from the missed field goal, Forbath boomed five kickoffs, with three going for touchbacks and yielded an average starting position of about the 16-yard line. That’s very good. His replacement, John Potter, since released as Forbath has healed, also did well on kickoffs. Eight of Potter’s 14 kickoffs went for touchbacks and his average distance of 65.5 yards per kickoff was about 7 yards further than Forbath. Potter made 3 of 4 field goals, including two from beyond 40 yards. POSITION GRADE: B+

Blocked puntPUNTER: Sav Rocca got some heat for some bad punts in the first two weeks, but he’s turned it around in the last two weeks. Yes, there was a blocked punt against Oakland, but ILB Perry Riley has admitted that block was his fault due to him missing a block. Rocca has punted 20 times and while his 41.1 gross and 37 net yard averages don’t seem impressive, but only six of his punts, 30 percent, have been returned. Total return yardage has been 44 yards, meaning opponents are averaging  just barely over two yards of return when Rocca punts. Eight of Rocca’s punts have been put inside the 20-yard line while none have been touchbacks, an excellent stat. I’d like to see Rocca boost those averages a bit, but overall he’s doing much better than most Redskins fans — and even some analysts — think. POSITION GRADE: B+

KICK RETURNER: Rookie RB Chris Thompson has actually improved slightly every week with his returns, but he started off from such a low place, the opening night loss to Philadelphia, that his improvements have not been enough. He’s not breaking plays or breaking tackles. Too often he goes down to the first guy who touches him and we haven’t see the speed or elusiveness that was there in the preseason. He’s averaging only 20 yards per return, one of the worst in the NFL. WR Josh Morgan has replaced Thompson as the KR, but hasn’t done much better. GRADE: D-

PUNT RETURNER: Chris Thompson has fielded punts inside the 10 and even the 5-yard line, almost cardinal sins for a punt returner. Additionally, Thompson is averaging only 5.1 yards per return, which is lousy. His longest return out of 7 returns, is only 11 yards. He’s only called a fair catch once, which is a bright spot. POSITION GRADE: D

LONG SNAPPER: Nick Sundberg had been doing fine during his relatively brief NFL career until he somehow managed to get two personal foul penalties in the same play during a week three loss to the Lions. I suspect that might be the first time that’s ever happened to a long snapper in NFL history. POSITION GRADE: D-

PUNT COVERAGE: The coverage unit has benefitted from Rocca’s ability to put punts inside the 20 or out of bounds, but Perry Riley allowing a blocked punt was inexcusable. The blocking hasn’t been as bad as last year, when the Redskins suffered a couple of blocked punts in the first weeks, but it isn’t good enough. Niles Paul is supposed to be a special teams ace, but he’s been terrible on punt coverage, missing tackles and getting penalized. POSITION GRADE: C+

KICK COVERAGE: The only player on kick coverage who has distinguished himself has been the aforementioned Niles Paul. Darryl Tapp, Reed Doughty and Logan Paulsen have all been disappointing. POSITION GRADE: D

OVERALL SPECIAL TEAMS GRADE: D

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