Snider: Skins Make Right Move With Novak

Rick Snider's Weekly Blog: Our longtime Redskins beat writer took a hiatus and covered the Terps while Nick Novak was their kicker.

It only took the Redskins a year to finally do the right thing and keep kicker Nick Novak.

The John Hall tenure was a failure. Three years, three injuries. It's too bad because Hall is a good kicker and good guy, but last year's setback should have convinced the Redskins they needed to change kickers. Instead, they let Novak slip away. Fortunately, he slipped back when Arizona cut him in August.

I have an unusual relationship with Novak, having covered him at the University of Maryland for his final two seasons. After physical setbacks forced me off the Redskins beat full-time, I took a rehab assignment of sorts in 2003 and covered my alma mater for two years at my former paper. Covering college football is a world different than the NFL and especially the Redskins nowadays. You can actually hang around practice and get to know players. And one I really liked was Novak.

The son of two college professors, and a twin whose brother plays soccer, Novak is the kind of person you'd want your daughter to marry. And -- ahem -- my daughter is now a senior at Maryland and when she and I both arrived at Maryland at the same time, I kidded Terps coach Ralph Friedgen that if I saw any football player talking to my daughter the newspaper coverage would take a more critical turn. My one exception -- Novak. He's that great of a guy. Too bad my daughter never met him on campus. Oh well.

The Redskins cut Novak last year because his kickoffs weren't long enough. You know what -- I couldn't care less how long kickoffs go. I only care how far and straight field goals go. There are 10 other men to compensate for short kickoffs, but no one can help an errant field goal attempt.

Novak won his first NFL game on an overtime field goal. What else do you want? He did it in college several times. The kid is a clutch player and the Redskins haven't really had a good kicker since Chip Lohmiller's 1995 departure. Bad kickers cost Norv Turner his job and destablized this franchise.

Of course, after scoring only three points in the loss at New York and only one touchdown in three of five games in the 2-3 start, changing kickers is like putting lipstick on a pig. It doesn't change the real fact that the Redskins have major problems.

There is one thing I know, though. Novak is for real and the Redskins need to keep him.


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