Bye week breakdown: Special teams

Bye week breakdown: Special teams
November 11, 2012, 8:00 am
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Washington Redskins wide receiver Brandon Banks (16) receives a New York Giants kick during the first half at MetLife Stadium.

(Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE)

Bye week breakdown: Special teams 

What’s working: Kai Forbath doesn't possess as strong a leg as Billy Cundiff, but he certainly is more accurate than the kicker he replaced. In his first four NFL games, in fact, the 25-year-old is 8 for 8 on field goals, making him one of only four kickers who remain perfect.  Of those attempts, Forbath has made five from 40-49 yards out and one from 50 yards. Cundiff, by comparison, made only three of his final eight field goals attempts before being released. 

Forbath’s only hiccup has been a blocked extra point that he kicked too low.

While it’s too soon to know if he’ll be the kicker that stops the Redskins’ revolving door at the position, he’s certainly off to a strong start.

The Redskins’ kick and punt coverage teams, rank 15th and 4th, respectively, in average yards per return. Neither unit has allowed a touchdown, although the punt coverage unit benefited from an illegal block in Pittsburgh to nullify Antonio Brown’s 76 yard score two weeks ago.

Against the Eagles, the Redskins expect to get regular long snapper Nick Sundberg back from the broken arm that has sidelined him the past eight games. 

What isn’t: Kick returner Brandon Banks usually ranks among the fastest players on the field, but he hasn’t been able to put that speed to good use often enough. He ranks 21st in average kick return (24.6 yards per), with a long of 55. On punts, he ranks 25th (6.2), with a long of only 27.

Whether it’s Banks' indecision or the blockers in front of him, the Redskins’ need him to be more of a factor in the final seven games.

The punt team, meanwhile, has steadied itself after having kicks blocked in each of the first two games. But a little concern remains about the health of punter Sav Rocca, who has kicked the past three weeks with a torn meniscus in his right (kicking) knee, and left Redskins Park last weak sporting a brace and walking with a limp. Rocca has shanked one punt since the injury but is determined to play through it.

What’s got to improve: Speaking of field position, the Redskins need Forbath to be better on kickoffs – a responsibility he did not perform during his distinguished tenure at UCLA. Of Forbath’s 21 field goals, only 38-percent gave been touchabcks. Cundiff, by comparison, sent 62 percent of his 29 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.

A detail, to be sure, but the Redskins will need every advantage they can get down the stretch.