Does the Washington Football Team have a kicking problem?
It’s tough to say. Dustin Hopkins is no slouch. He’s made a respectable 12-of-14 field goal attempts (85.7%) this season and 10-of-12 extra points (83.3%). His field goal percentage is tied for 11th among kickers in 2021.
At the same time, Hopkins is susceptible to the occasional back-breaking gaffe. Take his two missed extra points in Week 4 that almost cost Washington a win against the Falcons for example. He also missed his initial game-winner vs the Giants back in Week 2 before an offsides penalty gave him new life.
Additionally, Hopkins missed a 42-yarder this past Sunday that would’ve put Washington up 16-10 with eight minutes left in the third quarter.
In light of his inconsistency, Ron Rivera has decided that Hopkins is, in fact, a liability, because the team released him on Wednesday.
Washington’s new kicker — for now, at least — is Chris Blewitt, who spent time on the practice squad earlier this season.
The Washington Football Team has released Dustin Hopkins.
What a shocker.
While fans have been calling for Hopkins’ job for over a season now, we certainly didn’t expect his release to happen so abruptly, especially given that he’s largely been reliable through six games in 2021.
At the same time, though, Washington worked out a handful of kickers on Tuesday, so the writing was seemingly on the wall.
That list included former CFL All-Star Lirim Hajrullahu, who’s made pit stops on the Panthers, Rams and Cowboys practice squads. Could Hajrullahu potentially be signed to the practice squad as Blewitt’s backup? We wouldn’t rule it out.
As far as his Canadian roots go, Hajrullahu appeared in all 18 games for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats two years ago in 2019. He converted 85.5% of his FGs (47-of-55) and 92.8% of his point-afters (26-of-28). Hajrullahu can also handle his own as a punter, as he averaged 43.1 yards per punt over 106 attempts that year.
Washington also invited Sam Sloman to workout on Tuesday. As if this storyline needed another element of irony, Sloman actually beat out Hajrullahu for the Rams kicking job last season…though he was waived less than two months into the campaign after an 8-of-11 effort on field goals and 18-of-21 on extra points.
So what do fans need to know about Blewitt? Well, for starters, he’s never kicked in an NFL game, which raises immediate questions about the move.
In college, he starred for the Pitt, where he finished as the Panthers’ all-time leader in field goals and extra-points. Over his four years, Blewitt converted just 69.6% of his field goals and 97.1% of his point-afters.
Despite his lack of experience at the NFL level, Blewitt has been temporarily appointed as Hopkins’ successor. It’s the end of an era in Ashburn, as Hopkins had spent the entirety of his seven-year career with Washington.
There’s no denying that he was inconsistent during that span, but an 84% career field goal percentage and 94.2% extra-point percentage is nothing to sniff at.
This was likely always going to be Hopkins’ last season with the franchise, but moving on from him now in favor of a 26-year-old who’s never kicked in an NFL game is admittedly tough to stomach.
Let’s frame it like this. When a team with high expectations starts the year 2-4 and its raved-about defense ranks dead-least in points allowed per game, said team would probably look for a solution on that side of the ball instead of cutting a semi-wobbly kicker who’s tied for the 11th-best FG%.
We hope we’re wrong, but this is asking to blow up in Washington’s face.