Perhaps the biggest problem with the Dallas Cowboys these days, save for Ezekiel Elliott’s holdout obviously, is the state of the kicker position. This is actually very serious.
Kickers score points in football. That means that they are extremely important. The Cowboys played 13 games last season that were decided by one score so odds are that they’re going to be in some tight situations in 2019. They currently employ a kicker in Brett Maher that boasts an 80.6% career field goal percentage, and during his first preseason game of the year he fell below that (75%) as he went three of four in San Francisco.
What is it about Maher that seems to be the problem, though? If we had to isolate his issues, where do the inefficiencies lie? There has to be a specific answer here, right? It’s not just “he’s missing a lot of kicks,” is it?
Apparently the Cowboys feel Brett Maher struggles from the right hash
Among the many things to return on Saturdayed was Kristi Scales roaming the sidelines of America’s Team and providing us with exceptional insight. She detailed some of the things she learned on the sidelines over at the Dallas Morning News and one of her observations was that a Cowboys staffer acknowledged that Brett Maher struggles with kicks from the right hash mark.
As a staff member told me pregame on Saturday regarding Maher: “Hold your breath if the ball is spotted on the right hash.”
The pregame quote was prophetic. Maher made his first two field goals on Saturday from 25 and 40 yards out, respectively. Both were right hash. But his third attempt, from only 35 yards and also from the right hash, missed. Yes, he did make a short 31-yard FG as time expired in the first half to give the Cowboys a 9-7 lead going into halftime. But, no, overall it wasn’t a good night for Maher who finished 3-of-4.
Why the Cowboys have a kicker on their roster, their starter no less, that requires holding of breath at any point is a question worth asking, but it appears that they have partly isolated Maher’s issues. Unfortunately as Scales notes, they were correct. He missed from there.
If you’re wondering, Maher wasn’t exactly horrible from the right hash mark during his only season with the Cowboys. The DMN’s Calvin Watkins tweeted out the details on Monday morning, and attempts from the right hash mark were in fact Maher’s kryptonite last season.
Got some hash mark stats from 2018 on Brett Maher: 9-12 right hash, 4-5 middle, 16-19 left hash. In weeks 13-17 where he struggled down the stretch he went 6-9 left hash and 1-1 from right hash.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) August 12, 2019
It sounds trivial, but the hash mark that field goals are attempted from is something that absolutely matters to NFL kickers. You may have noticed throughout his time in Dallas that Dan Bailey continually changed which one he attempted extra points from (you can choose where you’re attempting from on XPs). I found that to be curious so I asked him about it a few years ago.
While his time with the Cowboys ultimately came to an end and he’s now got competition for his job with the Minnesota Vikings, Bailey was one of the best kickers throughout the league while in Dallas. He told me (very humbly I might add) that he used extra points as an opportunity to practice from either hash mark so that he was prepared for whatever field goal could potentially come his way. That’s smart.
Perhaps Maher needs to practice from the right hash more often, but many would say that he needs to practice more in general. The Cowboys have a very precarious kicking situation on their hands and it feels like playing with fire. Whether it’s helping him improve individually or bringing in competition for Maher the Cowboys need to do something.