Grading the Redskins: Special teams

Grading the Redskins: Special teams
October 6, 2013, 1:15 pm
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Tandler - Tarik

At 1-3, a quarter of the Redskins’ season is already in the books. It’s not the start the reigning NFC East champions had envisioned, but given the sorry state of their division, all hope is not lost, either. As the team enters its Week 5 bye, the players are on hiatus but Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are grading the team position-by-position. Join the conversation in the comments below.

When the Redskins allowed special teams coach Danny Smith to leave for Pittsburgh and hired Keith Burns as Smith’s replacement, the hope was that new leadership might spark a turn around. Well, it hasn’t happened yet, as last week’s special teams debacle in Oakland proved. As collective and as individuals, no unit has more room for improvement four games into the season.

El-Bashir: A quick glance at the Redskins’ special teams numbers illustrates just how far this group has to go. Punt returner Chris Thompson ranks 33rd in average yards per return (5.1) and hasn’t really threatened to break one yet. Josh Morgan has only two attempts since taking over as the kickoff returner late in the Detroit game, so he gets a pass on his ranking (21.5 yards per, 40th). Kicker Kai Forbath tweeted on Thursday, “Felt great kicking today! #HTTR.” So it sounds like he’s about to return from the groin injury that sidelined him the past three games. Dating to back to his record-breaking debut season, he’s 0 for 2 on his last two field goal attempts in the regular season. Punter Sav Rocca, meantime, ranks 29th in net average (37.0 yards per) and last in gross average (41.1). Last week, Mike Shanahan sounded like a head coach who’s losing patience when he said, “We’ve got to improve, there’s no question about it.”

Grade: D

Tandler: I think that the first job of special teams is the same as the first job of doctors. As the doctor’s oath says: First, do no harm. As long as special teams don’t commit any major blunders, I can live with a lack of big plays.  Through the first three games the Redskins had not done much harm, allowing no long returns or committing any other game-changing mistakes. Even though the return game was non-existent and the fact that Rocca, as Tarik noted, has been pretty bad, I would have been prepared to give them the gentleman’s C. But the blocked punt that the Raiders recovered for a touchdown is an unforgivable gaffe.

Grade: D