The Dallas Cowboys have a kicker problem. Every day when we recap the practices here at BTB there is always some note about how the kickers struggled. Issues have played hot potato between rookie UDFA Jonathan Garibay and veteran Lirim Hajrullahu, but ultimately neither has shown reason to trust them in an actual NFL game with everything on the line.
This is all the doing (or rather the not doing) of the Dallas Cowboys front office. We have spoken before about this, but in case you forgot the Cowboys literally employed the worst extra point kicker in the NFL last year. That isn’t hyperbole or a statement made for dramatic effect. It is an objective fact.
You would assume that this would have led to a reevaluation of how the Cowboys evaluate the kicker position. They have seemingly never really evaluated anyone in the John Fassel era. Shortly after he joined the team’s staff as special teams coordinator he brought in his kicker from the Los Angeles Rams in Zuerlein and stuck by him until it was no longer possible.
But here we sit. Double-digit practices into training camp. And a position that is responsible for scoring points is a point of weakness.
The Dallas Cowboys have nobody to blame but themselves for their kicker problem
The Cowboys decided to release Greg Zuerlein over the offseason which put them in the market for a new kicker. They reportedly considered bringing Zuerlein back before he wound up with the New York Jets which says a lot about all of this, but we’ve already re-litigated that subject.
Dallas did not bring in any veteran free agent kicker before the 2022 NFL Draft and did not spend any draft pick on one either. It wasn’t until they signed UDFA Jonathan Garibay that they even had another kicker as an option.
That was on April 30th. They clearly planned on Garibay working out since they didn’t sign bring in any competition until two months later (news of Lirim Hajrullahu’s return broke on July 1st), and unfortunately things continue to go poorly for the rookie.
As Cowboys’ kicker competition continues, Lirim Hajrullahu continues to separate himself. He was 7-of-9 (made six of final seven). Undrafted rookie Jonathan Garibay: 4-of-9. He missed three of final four, the last of which was this one from 49. pic.twitter.com/tb5Y116TRQ— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 6, 2022
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott hypes fans for 39-yard Jonathan Garibay FG attempt. And the miss deflates them. Garibay has missed four straight FGs. He’s 4-of-11 for today. Lirim Hajrullahu is 8-for-11. Camp competition been a runaway. pic.twitter.com/iefHQy7fP5— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 6, 2022
It has been fair to give Garibay time to show himself in the NFL, but while we are not even to the first preseason game of the year, it feels like we have seen enough. These are not ordinary misses here, they are extreme misses that do not look like the symptom of something that can be fixed before the regular season begins next month.
But to fix this issue requires getting off of the proverbial couch. The Cowboys can only fix this thing if they fix this thing, which means they have to, well, fix this thing. Complacency is no longer (nor should it ever be) the answer.
Unfortunately the Cowboys are speaking like all is well and the wind in Oxnard is to blame for all of the current struggles. Thankfully there will be no wind in any NFL games that the Cowboys will play in this season!
Maybe the preseason will offer more hope for Garibaby and/or Hajrullahu, but it is worth mentioning that there will be some potentially false promises shown during the first outing as the game will take place in the high altitudes of Denver. Jerry Jones is looking forward to that action as he noted that he is particularly interested in seeing them make 32-yard extra points since that is where he truly wants consistency.
“I know we’re challenged there against the wind out there,” Jones said. “I’d like to see them in the calmness of the stadium hitting those 32 yarders which happens to be the extra point. Let’s get that down. That’s where I want consistency right there.”
This isn’t just a broken philosophy. This is irresponsible team-building. The Dallas Cowboys played in nine games (counting the playoffs) that were decided by one possession last season. We all know how close games can be in the NFL, why play with fire like this?