When teams finalize their 53-man rosters after the preseason, rarely are there total and complete surprises.
Sure, every now and then a team will cut a big name that causes people to gasp a little, but it’s almost usually a move you could see coming to a certain degree. Such was not the case a few months ago when the Cowboys final 53-man roster did not feature Dan Bailey’s name at kicker.
It was jarring to see Bailey’s name, but the Cowboys did have a 28-year-old rookie in Brett Maher so everything was good, right? Wrong. Cowboys fans everywhere were livid that the team would move on from the second-most accurate kicker in the history of the game for someone who played in the CFL. It made no logical sense.
Dan Bailey had his struggles at the tail end of last season but that didn’t change the fact that he was Dan Bailey. Brett Maher would have to have the season of his life in order to justify such a move.
Brett Maher has been ballin’ out of his mind
In the interest of full disclosure, things did not get off to a great start in the Maher era when he missed his first ever NFL kick during the season opener in Carolina. That wasn’t good.
Since then Maher has been absolute money. He’s drilled 15 field goals in a row, the best streak across the NFL this season, including the game-winner against the Detroit Lions a few weeks ago.
Many believe that Maher earned his keep during the final preseason game in Houston when he knocked one through from 57 yards out (ironically, he wasn’t given a shot in overtime at the same stadium weeks later, but we’ve moved on). There’s little to no doubt that his big leg was part of the reason that the Cowboys chose to roll with him over Bailey and the results back that up.
Maher has already matched Bailey’s 2017 season from downtown
In both his first two and last two seasons with the Cowboys (2011, 2012, 2016, 2017) Dan Bailey made three or less field goals from the 50+ mark. During the three seasons in between he made at least five in all of them.
Making kicks from beyond the arc, so to speak, isn’t the only hallmark of a great kicker, but it’s obviously a weapon that you want at your disposal when you have to call on it. The Cowboys only saw three from over 50 yards fly through the uprights in Bailey’s final two seasons with the team, they theoretically wanted to see more.
Through just six games, Brett Maher has already connected from 50+ three times. This is sort of absurd, think about it again. In just six games Maher has already connected from deep range as many times as Dan Bailey did in four different entire seasons with the Cowboys. It’s wild.
Thinking about stats like these reminds me of Manny Ramirez the baseball player and all of the grand slams he hit over his career. Connecting from 50+ isn’t something a kicker can plan, the same way that you can’t plan a grand slam. The situation has to unfold in an exact way to the point that it becomes necessary. The situation has to present itself but the magnitude of the accomplishment should still be applauded.
The Cowboys went with their gut and they were right
There was no shortage of flack heading the Cowboys way when they moved on from Dan Bailey. In a sense, it’s still justified considering how large of a move it was. The Cowboys were banking on their own evaluations being correct and in this case they absolutely were.
Dan Bailey has moved on himself to the Minnesota Vikings where he even helped beat the Philadelphia Eagles (old habits die hard). It’s great to see him having success throughout the rest of his career because we do want the best for him after everything he did for us, but looking back at us it’s obvious that Brett Maher was the correct choice.
The Dallas Cowboys called their shot and have been making it over and over and over again. Good for them.