In 2010, Redskins kicker Graham Gano missed nearly one-third of his field goal opportunities, testing the confidence of his head coach and causing the team to bring in competition during training camp.
Then, after a perfect preseason, he won the starting job and seemed to be on his way to consistent success. His franchise-long 59-yard field goal against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 9 was a career highlight.
Since then, Gano has missed three field goals in the last two weeks, including two potentially game-winning scores against Dallas. Both he and his holder Sav Rocca said that the kicks felt good coming off the snap, but the results were not successful.
"I think the wind was in play," he explained. "If you look at Bailey's winning kick, that's a 39-yard kick and that almost blew out from there. On my 49-yarder – if you watch it on film – it's going straight and then the ball just completely turns right."
Gano also attributed last week's miss in Miami to the 15-25 mph winds that gusted through Sun Life Stadium. In that game, Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter also missed in the same end zone.
"It's pretty outrageous, but the wind is unpredictable," he said. "You can't really go by the flags that are on top of the uprights – those are meaningless. The flags at the top of the stadium are way too high, so you obviously can't learn much from that. You've just got to go off what you feel and hit the ball well."
On Monday, Gano was put on notice by head coach Mike Shanahan, who suggested that Gano will need to improve on his results or be replaced.
Shanahan said he was "very disappointed" with Gano's struggles in recent weeks.
"Like everybody, you have to perform and you're hoping that he performs at a high level," Shanahan said. "If you don't advantage of those opportunities, then you don't kick in the National Football League very long."
Gano understands his importance to the team, but he isn't letting his negative results overwhelm him as he prepares for Seattle.
"It stinks missing the kicks," he said. "But taking the blocks out of the totals, I'm 16-for-21 on the year. Four of the misses have been 49-plus yards, which aren't easy to make. With the misses, all but the 50-yarder in Miami, I've only missed by a foot."
Last year, Gano attributed his struggles to mechanics and timing. After the season, Shanahan attributed it to confidence and mental approach.
This year, Gano says that neither are the issue.
"Mentally, I feel pretty good about where I am, and I'm comfortable with the way I'm hitting the ball," Gano said. "I'm just going into the Seahawks game like any other week. I go out there with the same mindset every time and just do my best."
Shanahan noted that the team is constantly evaluating all positions based on performance, and that no one should feel complacent.
"We've always got a list of people we have charts on," he said. "We're always looking at different people at all the different positions."