I can't say that the Redskins did not give Graham Gano a fair shot. That would be wrong of me.
I can say, he deserved a better fate. Gano was released on Tuesday morning, as ESPN 980 first reported.
I'll be perfectly up-front and I don't really care if it bothers you or not. When you cover a team, and you are inside a team facility more than you are at home with your kids - you develop relationships if not friendships.
Graham Gano, was and is -- one of the best people I've met and worked with, and we always had a good friendship that extended beyond just media & player.
I can also say this, I strongly believe the Redskins will regret this decision for a long time. It's easy to say that kickers are a dime-a-dozen and I get that. To some degree.
It's easy to say, he missed chip shot field goals, and way too many kicks and I get that. Kind of.
He also won a few games with his leg on a team that quite honestly hasn't won many games in the end. Anybody remember his overtime game winning kicks against the Packers, Titans and Jaguars in 2010???
Yeah, his critics ALWAYS fail to mention those. Nobody seems to remember the 13-13 stretch he had in December of last year. He might have finished with 16 in a row, if not for a couple of blocks.
The bottom line is, and I know this for sure, Mike Shanahan was never a big fan of Gano's and just didn't want him moving forward if somebody he and the staff deemed more experienced and better, became available.
Whether Billy Cundiff turns out to be the right move or not - is on Mike Shanahan. I believe Danny Smith was chewing a lot more packages of gum than he wanted too with Gano, but I am pretty sure that Danny would have liked to keep Gano in a perfect world.
Of course, it's not. Nobody distinguished themselves from each other in training camp and the pre-season, so the Redskins cut both Neil Rackers and Gano. OK, didn't see that one coming.
It got me thinking. Nobody can question Gano's leg strength. It's impeccable. His accuracy? OK - that has been an issue as opposed to distance.
His kickoff ability? You can throw every stat you want out there, but the bottom line is, Danny Smith believes in directional kicking and trying to pin a team, while using wind and weather conditions as an aid.
Touchback percentage (Cundiff vs. Gano) really does not matter. Gano, if asked too, could have booted every kick from Landover to the National Mall if he wanted too.
You want to argue execution? Fine, he wasn't perfect - but name me a football player, let alone a 25 year old, that is perfect every time he is asked to do something.
Go ahead, name ONE. I'm waiting...I have all day. Really I do.
The name Jason Elam was brought up in a conversation I had today. With that in mind, I brought up a side by side chart of both Gano http://bit.ly/NV7cKW and Elam http://bit.ly/SOtVZW and tried to make a fair comparison.
Elam started with Denver at the age of 23 in 1993, under Wade Phillips and was (26-35) in his rookie year, and only (4-10) from 40-49 yards during that season.
Gano was signed by the Redskins late in the disastrous 2009 season, at the age of 22 (younger than Elam) and was a perfect (4-4) in his attempts.
In 1994, still coached by Wade Phillips, at the age of 24 -- Elam was (30-37) overall and (7-12) from 40-49.
In 2010, at the age of 23, Gano - now coached by Mike Shanahan - was 24-35, while going (8-10, from 20-29), (4-7, from 30-39), and (11-14, from 40-49). He was also (0-3) from 50 + but again had three game winning overtime kicks, and barely missed a fourth (Week 2 @ home vs. Houston, 52 yard MFG in overtime). His overall percentage was only 68.6% but the Redskins also had one blocked, pushing his percentage for argument's sake to 70.5%.
In 1995, Elam, in his first year under Shanahan, at the age of 25, going into his third full season (where Gano is going now) was (31-38) and (5-7) from 40-49.
In 2011, Gano's third season but only his 2nd full campaign, at the age of 24, Graham went (31-41) with the 5 blocks, contributing to his miss total - so in reality, he was (31-36) at a 86.1%.
After that third full season, Elam hovered between 75 % and a high of 93.5% in Shanahan's final season in Denver.
His first three year percentages were (74.3, 81.1, 81.6). Gano's first 2 1/4 season percentages in adjusted math, were (100, 70.5, 86.1) and with no adjustment (100 (4 Games), 68.6, 75.6).
Still with me? Good. As you can see, Elam was more consistent perhaps, but didn't make the statistical jumps that Gano made, year over year.
He made a big leap forward later in his career, but it took time. I understand that Mike Shanahan feels he doesn't have time, and is under big pressure.
He's not going anywhere this year. You can write that down. Everyone knows that. I'm surprised Shanahan did not remember what he inherited two years into Jason Elam's career.
I'm glad he gave Elam the chance, because he proved that you can get more consistent with age and experience.
Something he didn't give Gano the chance to do. I just wonder why, and will this decision come back to haunt the Redskins.
I hope for Graham Gano's sake it does, and maybe he will have his revenge one day down the road.