Dallas Cowboys will need a reliable Dan Bailey in 2018

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25: Kicker Dan Bailey
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25: Kicker Dan Bailey /

In order for the Dallas Cowboys to have any chance at returning to the postseason, they will need kicker Dan Bailey to regain his form in 2018.

The 2017 season started off looking like business as usual for Dallas Cowboys All-Pro kicker Dan Bailey. In the season opener, Bailey made four field goals to help lead the Cowboys to a home victory against the New York Giants. The following week against the Denver Broncos, though he only made one field goal in what would be a blowout loss, Bailey tied his career long with a 56-yarder.

Heading into Week Seven, Bailey was perfect on the season completing all seven of his attempts. However after suffering a groin injury that very same week, Bailey would struggle to return to his usual form. In the final month of the 2017 season, we would see him miss five field goals and two extra points; very uncharacteristic for the usually automatic kicker.

In what would end up being the loss that ended the Cowboys season in Week 16 against the Seattle Seahawks, it looked like Bailey was getting back on track when he would convert on his first four field goals. Concern would set in again though when he would miss two fourth quarter field goals that would greatly hamper any chances the Cowboys had of keeping their season alive in what was a must win game.

When Bailey was asked about his late season struggles, he was always quick to deny that injury played any part. But he did admit to possibly being “out of rhythm” due to his four-game absence. I don’t think there is any denying that Bailey was not 100% healthy when he returned from his groin injury.

Going strictly on field goal percentage, this was by far the worst season of Bailey’s stellar career completing only 75%, even with missing a quarter of the season. Before 2017, Bailey’s career low field goal percentage in a single season was 84% in 2016.

Bailey has been one of the strengths year in and year out for the Cowboys since he began his career as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State in 2011. Coaches consider him a perfectionist with the way he goes about perfecting his craft. And the proof is in the numbers as Bailey is currently the NFL’s second most accurate kicker of all-time. Before his arrival in Dallas, the kicking position was a revolving door of inaccurate and unreliable journeyman and retreads.

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If the Dallas Cowboys want to have any prayer of returning to the playoffs in 2018, they will certainly need Dan Bailey to return to his All-Pro form. Given his track record of reliability, there is no reason to believe that he will not be back to form in 2018. But injures have plagued Bailey in the past. And how much concern should there be that his last two seasons were each career lows for him in field goal percentage?