Forbath came on last season and had a great run for the Redskins making his first 17 field goals of the season. His clutch kicking helped them win their first division title since 1999, as they went on a 7 game run to close out the season. While it was exciting to have a quality kicker, one question remained: could the Redskins live with his weak kick-offs.
Forbath had an accurate leg and even could kick with a little distance on field goals, but his kick-offs fell well short of where the Redskins wanted them to be. Not only did he have a poor touchback percentage, but his hangtime on his kicks was low. This meant even if Forbath was driving it 4-7 yards deep in the end zone it still might make sense for a good return man to take it out. The Redskins decided to roll the dice with Forbath again this year, and didn’t try to fix the kick-off issue by bringing in a punter who could serve as a kick-off specialist.
Not every team does it, but there are more than a few teams that use their punters for kick-offs to allow them to keep a kicker who struggles in that department, but is strong with field goals. Instead of trying to go that route either through free agency, the draft or undrafted free agency, the Redskins decided to re-sign Sav Rocca to a two year deal. This was despite the fact Rocca struggled the year before and was getting up there in age. The result was horrible for the Redskins special teams.
Forbath hasn’t really shown any signs of improvement with his distance or hang time and the Redskins have one of the lowest touch back percentages in the league as a result. Returners are getting numerous favorable kicks to return and they are taking advantage against a weak coverage unit. This is leading other teams to have great field position (or score) before the defense steps onto the field.
The Redskins plan to try to work with Forbath to improve his distance/hang time not only didn’t work, but probably actually set him back. Forbath injured his groin in the first game of the season and missed the next couple games as a result. While he may have pulled his groin regardless, you have to wonder if trying to kick better kick-offs contributed to his groin injury. It’s really not a stretch to think that Forbath over extended himself trying to make kicks that were unnatural to him. Not only did this lead to Forbath missing time and struggling on his kick-offs, but his accuracy was compromised early on in the season as well. He missed 4 of his first 9 kicks this season, including 2 kicks that were blocked and somewhat attributed to being too low. Forbath is a perfect 11 for 11 since that time, including making some tough kicks after bad snaps/holds.
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The Redskins next year are going to have to decide if Forbath is worth it to bring on a punter who is a kick-off specialist. While they definitely need to replace Sav Rocca, the Redskins need to decide what is the best way to go. By relying on a kick-off specialist punter, you are limiting your options (though there will definitely be some to choose from), and maybe not bringing in the best available actual punter since you need them for a dual-role. Forbath has to show he’s a worthy enough placekicker to warrant that special treatment. Forbath definitely has the potential to be worth it, but it will be interesting to see if the new Special Teams coach and head coach agree.
What do you think? Should the Redskins bring in a punter who doubles as a kick-off specialist? Or should they target the best punter and bring in an placekicker who can kick off effectively?