The Washington Football Team went through a barrage of kickers during the 2021 season, but their latest find could be a solution for the future.
Washington cut longtime kicker Dustin Hopkins after an extremely shaky start to the campaign, then tried and failed to replace him with two other players. The team then signed Joey Slye in November, making him the fourth placekicker to appear in a regular-season contest.
Has Slye earned the right to be Washington's long-term solution at the position? One familiar voice thinks so.
“Joey Slye hits a ball that’s coming out of the jugs machine, man,” Washington punter Tress Way said on locker clean-out day. “Every single ball looks the exact same. He has refined his technique and he’s got his contact rolling.”
Way has been WFT's punter since 2014. In addition to his punting duties, he has acted as the holder for the kicking unit on special teams throughout that time. Now that Way has seen a few kickers make their way through Washington's roster, he knows what it takes for one to be successful.
Indeed, Slye came to Washington under raucous circumstances and provided stability at the most important position on special teams. He made all 12 of his field-goal attempts (including three from 40+ yards), and went 9-of-10 on extra points, making him one of the biggest overperformers for the team this season.
A few factors could’ve contributed to Slye’s miraculous run, according to Way.
“When you come into freaking D.C. in November, December, January and you’re playing in the NFC East, dude you’re gonna play in some crap,” Way said. “So that really helps whenever you can call on that kind of consistency. I think that’s why he hit the ball really well here down the stretch, and more than likely moving forward.”
Slye already had a connection with head coach Ron Rivera when he arrived in Washington. Slye kicked for the Carolina Panthers in 2019 and 2020, overlapping with Rivera for part of that time.
Slye, 25, went to Virginia Tech and is on his fourth NFL active roster. Thanks to a tremendous showing in 2021, he very well could return for the Burgundy & Gold in 2022.