Like Many ‘Skins Kickers, Gano Becomes the Goat

Ever since the heady days of Chip Lohmiller in the early 1990s, the Redskins have been searching seemingly forever for a reliable kicker.

Or at least for one who can be counted on to make routine chip shots.

If it wasn't clear before Sunday's loss to the Buccaneers, it surely is now that Graham Gano is not that guy. Though the botched extra point in the final seconds was the fault of long snapper Nick Sundberg and holder Hunter Smith, Gano's two misses from inside 35 yards proved to be just as fatal to the Redskins' hopes for winning.

Gano, who was toiling away in the UFL prior to joining the Redskins late last season, said after the game that he thought he was striking the ball well. Maybe he was, but he obviously had some issues about just where exactly he was trying to strike it. Each of his misses sailed to the left and his one make wasn't good by much. Not to denigrate the position, but there's not a lot of directional issues to figure out on a 24-yard field goal.

Mike Shanahan said that Gano's job is safe for the time being, but that may have as much to do with the dearth of quality kickers available on the free agent market than any vote of confidence in Gano's skills (or lack thereof).

Even though the coach said the team won't been conducting tryouts for kickers this week, knowing the consistency with which Shanahan was clear during the Albert Haynesworth saga, you never know. Then again, NFL teams rarely hide their intentions with kickers. As players go, they're usually the most easily expendable of the lot.

Most likely, the team will allow the embattled kicker to hang around for the last three regular season games and then search for a replacement or even select a kicker in the draft next year. While you could expect to find someone who could make a 24-yard field goal on the market right now, you'd be hard-pressed to find the long-term answer at the position.

Meanwhile, Shaun Suisham, who not long ago was committing the kind of kicking blunders with the Redskins that Gano did yesterday, has been downright solid since joining the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this season.

Suisham has been a perfect 9-for-9 on field goal attempts since signing with the Steelers to replace Jeff Reed in November. Knowing the Redskins' luck, he and Devin Thomas will emerge as perennial Pro Bowlers for their new teams.

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