Saturday’s practice tugged at a loose thread for a lot of Cowboys fans, a thread named Dan Bailey.
Dan is the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history. Read it again. Dan Bailey is the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history. He’s also human.
The reality of life is that when you’re as good at something as Dan Bailey is at kicking, expectations change. People grow to expect that perfection. People expect the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history. It’s one of the only negatives that comes from being at the top of your craft.
This is something Bailey talked about when I had a chance to catch up with him out in Oxnard last week (our full chat will hit BTB later this week). He knows how much he lives in his own shadow.
Dan: It’s funny because there’s this expectation of the level that people want you at, which is awesome because I don’t want to not have that. I want the highest expectation possible because it’s only going to make me better and hopefully make everybody else around me better, too. But along with that is a level of disappointment with the obvious questions of “man, like what happened last year?” and it’s like...
RJ: You’re human.
Dan: Yea exactly. And that’s my, I don’t know if it’s a satisfactory answer for a lot of people, but for me it’s like okay well here’s my answer it was two games. There was two games where I wish I could, well I don’t know if I wish I could have them back, but I’m definitely disappointed with. Overall I think there’s a lot of positive to build on as well. The first eight games of the season I felt really good. I was hitting the ball really well. From there it’s just a matter of taking the good, taking the bad as well, and then formulating something going into this year, and that’s kind of my plan.
Dan was measured against his own greatness over the weekend when his humanity showed up in the form of multiple misses in consecutive days. Is this ideal? Far from it, obviously. At the end of the day though, this is Dan Bailey we’re talking about. Dan Bailey!
Bailey is just 30 years old and prior to last season had never missed time throughout his career. Unfortunately 2017 was a season of firsts for Dan as he missed an extra point for the first time ever as well. There’s no denying it was a season well below the standard that he’s set, and while that will unquestionably raise some concern it shouldn’t overwhelm the longstanding resume that he’s built for himself.
Jason Garrett suggested today that Dan Bailey’s injury might have thrown him off at the tail end of 2018.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) August 5, 2018
Garrett said he’s not concerned about Bailey’s struggles in camp the past few days #cowboyswire pic.twitter.com/e7PNnD4S8n
It sounds silly to say out loud, but Dan Bailey is a huge portion of the Cowboys offense. He’s a scoring machine and a point of reliability, and if there’s any concern surrounding him it should be overworking him. The Cowboys could be better served having somebody else handle kickoffs for example, we touched on this back in April, but worrying about Dan Bailey the field goal and extra point kicker (especially at training camp) to a great degree is being upset about him not being perfect.
In fact, do you know how many games Dan Bailey missed kicks in last season? It feels like a lot, especially because the rough stretch that he had was so rough, but take a second and think about it. Take a guess.
Dan missed kicks in three games. That’s it. Three.
Before the Cowboys traveled to New York last December, Dan hadn’t missed at all in 2017 (it should be noted that he didn’t attempt a field goal or extra point at all on Thanksgiving). Again, he struggled somewhat mightily in the games that he did, but we’re talking about three games in a four-game stretch across an entire seven-year career.
Dan Bailey is going to miss kicks. He’s going to have bad days (even ones in training camp). There will be moments where he isn’t completely flawless, just as there have been in seasons past. Let’s assume that he’s human before we write him off as a kicker as a whole.