When the Dallas Cowboys decided to move on from Dan Bailey this past offseason there were many that scoffed. Bailey’s reputation speaks for itself, after all.
Dallas chose to roll with 28-year-old rookie Brett Maher as the foot to fill Bailey’s cleat. Maher missed his first ever attempt on the road in Carolina back in Week 1, but after that he turned on the afterburners. Part of the reason the Cowboys liked Maher was his big leg and it was on display for the first seven weeks of the season, so much so that people even questioned why the Cowboys didn’t try a field goal with Maher in overtime in Houston.
Then the Cowboys visited the Washington Redskins. Maher had a chance to tie the game at the very end but due to a snap infraction penalty against L.P. Ladouceur had to make a difficult kick on a field of questionable quality. His miss (52-yard attempt) sent the Cowboys into the bye week with a loss, but it was regarded as an outlier in an otherwise outstanding season for the new boot.
Brett Maher’s struggles continued, and continued, and are continuing
When Dallas started off their post-bye season with a primetime game against the Tennessee Titans the whole world was paying attention to Amari Cooper’s debut. Also worth noting from that contest was that Maher missed his first field goal attempt of the game (38-yard attempt), marking two consecutive misses for the first time in his Cowboys career. Coincidentally both his first game of the season and first out of the bye saw him miss his only field goal attempts.
So he missed against Tennessee, no big deal right? Even though that kick was indoors at AT&T Stadium and not on the velcro of FedEx Field it made sense that it was still an outlier, right?
The next week Brett Maher missed on the road in Philadelphia (42-yard attempt). They were three points that ultimately could have been incredibly important as the Cowboys won only by seven. Fast forward another week to the Cowboys latest win in Atlanta (also an indoor stadium) where Maher had another first... a missed extra point.
Maher ultimately made the game-winning field goal for the Cowboys but his extra point was costly as it allowed the Falcons the ability to tie the game in the first place. It’s not fair to play a what-if game with so many details but it goes without saying that things might not have gotten as contentious down the stretch had Maher made his first extra point.
We’re no longer at a point of outliers or exceptions for Brett Maher. He has missed a kick of some sort in four consecutive games for the Cowboys, three of which were decided by one possession. Dallas is in tight games these days and you have to be able to rely on your kicker for field goals, at the very least extra points.
Field goal and extra point successes are becoming more rare across the entire National Football League these days, but that’s hardly something to use as a settlement of sorts for Brett Maher. It’s also worth noting that none of this means the Cowboys were wrong to move on from Dan Bailey, they’re just at a point where Maher is undeniably struggling (despite hitting the game-winner in Atlanta). He’s not the worst kicker ever, he’s not bad by any means, but we are at a point where this is a conversation that must be had.
Brett Maher went five straight games without missing a kick for the Cowboys after the season opener. He’s one game away from matching that with a streak of at least one miss in a game. Something has to change, and fast.