Is it time for Washington to move away from K Dustin Hopkins?

Zachary Neel
·2 min read

The job of a kicker in the NFL is extremely tough. Nobody really knows about you or cares that you’re there until it matters, and unless you’re practically perfect at your job, you get cast aside to the wolves. You can make all of the extra points and short field goals that you want, but as soon as you miss a 40+ yarder with the game on the line, everyone is calling for your head.

That’s likely what Washington’s kicker Dustin Hopkins is feeling right about now. Though he is 132-for-158 on field goals in his career with Washington, an 8-for-12 start with one missed extra point in the 2020 season has him currently on the hot seat. His biggest blunder game in Week 6 against the New York Giants, when he missed a field goal early in the game that, all being equal, would have won them the game in the end. Instead, they lost 20-19 and fell to the winless division rival.

The biggest question to ask about Hopkins’ struggles this season is how much they play an effect on the rest of the team and the coaching staff in particular. In the Week 6 loss to the Giants, Ron Rivera decided to go for 2 at the end of the game instead of kicking an extra point to tie it and go to overtime. Did Hopkins’ miss earlier in the game play into that decision to keep the ball out of his hands (or off of his foot?) What if a similar scenario arises in the future when Washington is faced with a decision to play it safe and kick the field goal or extra point, but they feel unable to rely on their kicker? What will Rivera do then?

It’s tough to get a feel for how the coaching staff feels about Hopkins, and they’ve been unwilling to comment on the matter as of late, with Rivera only saying a week ago that they weren’t planning on making a change. With the bye week now upon us, though, I can’t say that anyone would be too shocked to see Washington bring in a free agent kicker and at least try to light a fire under Hopkins, showing him that his release isn’t as far away as he may think.

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Game predictions for the rest of the 2020 season for Washington