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What’s the panic level on Dan Bailey entering the offseason?

Lord Bailey had a rough end to 2017.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

You can make an argument that the most consistent player on the Dallas Cowboys is their kicker, Dan Bailey.

Well, you used to be able to make that argument. 2017 is over, both the season and the year (Happy New Year, btw!), and Dan Bailey being unquestionable might have gone with it.

2017 was a season nagged by a groin injury for Bailey, making it the second year in a row that he dealt with an injury of some kind. Unlike 2016, Bailey actually missed time this past season (a first in his career), four games to be exact.

2017 was weird for Lord Bailey

Things started down a murky path for Bailey when the Cowboys were in San Francisco (coincidentally where his injury troubles began a year prior). After two made extra points, the Cowboys went for two after their next touchdown and the world wondered why.

After a great experience of Jeff Heath kicking in lieu of Bailey, we all moved on after San Francisco knowing that Bailey wasn’t right. The Cowboys brought in veteran Mike Nugent, who was serviceable while Bailey healed up.

Bailey did everything he could to get right for the Cowboys big game against the Eagles on November 19th, but it was just too much too soon. He officially returned four days later on Thanksgiving Day against the Chargers (where he ironically didn’t kick at all).

Seven days later Dan made not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE field goals against Washington, and everyone assumed things were back to normal. Bailey was as Bailey is. The next Sunday in New York though, that’s when things really changed.

Dan Bailey broke in New York

The Cowboys prepared for the weather of December in New York properly. Jason Garrett had his team practice outdoors the Thursday before, a first for the Cowboys since they’ve operated out of The Star in Frisco. The cold was on their minds.

Dan started off right, connecting on a 21-yard field goal. He missed from 53 yards out after that, but hey it was a 53-yard field goal, those are tough.

Bailey made his next extra point, but then he missed a 50-yard field goal. Two in a row is something you don’t hear from Dan Bailey when it comes to misses, but still. These were both from 50+, right?

Dan rebounded by making his next extra point, but that’s when things got really historic. Dan missed his next kick in New York, an extra point, making it the first extra point he’d ever missed in his career (he would make one more after this).

The following week Dallas was in Oakland, and it was chilly there as well. Garrett and Co. used the same schedule, practicing outdoors the Thursday before to prepare. Dan made a pair of field goals and extra points in the Black Hole, crisis seemingly averted.

Dallas hosted Seattle on Christmas Eve in a win-or-go-home game. For so long in the contest Bailey was the team’s only threat in terms of ability to score as he booted four straight field goals through the uprights.

With just under six minutes left in the game, his team down by nine, Dan Bailey missed. This would be understandable if it was from long rage or had the game been outside, but this was indoors at AT&T Stadium and from 34 yards.

What made the situation all the more “what is happening here” was when four and a half minutes later (in game time) Dan missed again from 48 yards out. Two in a row, we said that never happened, remember?

It’s definitely more than coincidence at this point

During their season finale, a meaningless game in Philadelphia, Dan Bailey accomplished something he never had before.

Bailey missed an extra point and a 23-yard field goal. Those were his only opportunities, and he shanked hard in both instances. The weather was a huge factor in Philadelphia, but we’re looking at more than something we can shrug off at this point.

Dan Bailey’s kicks since traveling to New York are quite troubling:

  • 21-yard field goal, GOOD
  • 53-yard field goal, NO GOOD
  • Extra Point, GOOD
  • 50-yard field goal, NO GOOD
  • Extra Point, GOOD
  • Extra Point, NO GOOD
  • Extra Point, GOOD
  • 45-yard field goal, GOOD
  • Extra Point, GOOD
  • Extra Point, GOOD
  • 19-yard field goal, GOOD
  • 34-yard field goal, GOOD
  • 51-yard field goal, GOOD
  • 51-yard field goal, GOOD
  • 39-yard field goal, GOOD
  • 34-yard field goal, NO GOOD
  • 48-yard field goal, NO GOOD
  • Extra Point, NO GOOD
  • 23-yard field goal, NO GOOD

Remember that he hadn’t missed at all prior to this stretch, but since then he went 12/19 overall, two of the misses being extra points when he’d never missed one before. He missed the final four kicks of the season.

Dan Bailey has not been himself down the stretch once before

Think back to 2014, my friends. It was a glorious time, and now you’re feeling good, I know it.

In terms of the regular season, Bailey was dynamite (Dan-o-mite?). He was the Dan Bailey we’ve always known him to be. No weirdness there.

But remember the playoffs that season. Remember that Dan Bailey missed a 41-yard field goal during the wildcard round against the Detroit Lions, and remember that he missed a 50-yard attempt near the end of the first half the week after in Lambeau Field (an eventual six-point swing).

These two misses aren’t exactly a trend, and if anything they simply proved that Dan is human (shocker). But in the spirit of looking under every rock to find out what’s wrong with Dan, is there some concern about his durability at this point?

Again, Bailey has dealt with injuries for two straight seasons now. Next season will be his eighth. He’s undeniably one of the greatest kickers that the game has ever seen, but are we past the point where we’re no longer worried when he trots out and does his patented shoulder shake?

It feels like 2017 could have been to Dan Bailey as 2015 was to Tony Romo. Great players who suffered injuries that tried with all of their might to get back as soon as possible, and they unfortunately weren’t themselves when they did return.

How concerned are you about Dan Bailey going forward?

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