Over at ESPN, Bill Barnwell has looked at the biggest weakness for 14 teams that are cited as contenders. The Dallas Cowboys make the list, but their issue is actually part of what could be considered a ‘good news. bad news’ scenario.
First, let’s see the issue.
Chances to make the playoffs, per ESPN’s FPI: 70.2%
Achilles’ heel: Kicker
The Cowboys led the league in points scored in spite of their kicking last season. Greg Zuerlein hit just under 83% of his field goals and failed on six of his 48 extra point tries, leading a cap-strapped team to cut him. It was no surprise the organization tried to find a cheaper solution at the position, especially given that it once landed on a longtime kicker in undrafted free agency by signing Dan Bailey in 2011.
So kicker is the pick, not wide receiver, offensive line or anything else.
The first bit of good news is that the article considers the Cowboys contenders, one of 14. They also rate their chances of making the playoffs at 70%. Of course, some of that is due to the poor playoff the NFC East.
More good news is that kicker is not the worst position to have a weakness. Quarterback, offensive line, cornerback or some other position groups are clearly more detrimental as a weakness. So the Cowboys are still contenders and kicker is their biggest weakness. That’s not bad.
But, kicking is important and the Cowboys should fix it. They just may not be going about it the right way.
Team owner Jerry Jones & Co. were probably hoping for something similar when they added Jonathan Garibay out of Texas Tech. Garibay attempted only 27 total field goals for the Red Raiders, but he went 15-of-16 on those tries a year ago and was 49-of-50 on extra points. So far, that hasn’t translated to pro success, as he has reportedly struggled during camp, particularly during moments in which the Cowboys have asked him to kick on short notice to simulate clutch situations.
Not great. Dallas brought in competition to compete with Garibay in 32-year-old journeyman Lirim Hajrullahu, who made his NFL debut with Dallas a year ago. Hajrullahu went 8-for-8 on extra points and 4-for-5 on field goals during his time with the Panthers, and he hit 83.3% of his field goals during a six-year run in the CFL, but the choices here are between two unproven players. This feels like a situation Jones will be evaluating after every missed kick.
That’s the bad news. The Cowboys previously didn’t seem to have any sense of urgency about fixing the issue. Jerry Jones has said as much, but in a way that makes it seem like the Cowboys expect one of these two kickers in camp to get themselves right. And they could be correct about that. On Monday, both kickers had good days.
But now they are preparing to bring in four other kickers for a workout.
Maybe it will just take a little time to figure this out. We are jumping to conclusions with plenty of time left to correct the situation.
If fixing the kicker is the Cowboys biggest problem, they are actually in pretty good shape.