In 2018, the Dallas Cowboys chose kicker Brett Maher over Dan Bailey. Maher made 80% of his field goal attempts. Is this position ready for an upgrade?
The wise philosopher Dominic Toretto once said that It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning’s winning. The legendary NFL Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi stated that football is a game of inches and inches make the champion. Since inches matter, I scan the Dallas Cowboys‘ roster daily to check for competition at the kicker position.
The importance of an accurate kicker was on full display during the 2018 NFL Playoffs. The Chicago Bears were bounced out of the playoffs after their kicker, Cody Parkey had an infamous double-doink. Parkey’s 43 yard, game winning field goal attempt bounced off the upright and the crossbar before landing in the end zone – No Good.
The Cowboys entered the 2018 NFL season with a shocking announcement at the kicker position. The franchise released Dan Bailey, who was the most accurate kicker in franchise history. Cowboy Nation affectionately gave Bailey the nickname – Money. From 2011 to 2016, Bailey made 100% of his extra point attempts and was responsible for 14 game winning field goals.
The Cowboys replaced Money Bailey with Brett Maher. Maher missed his first field goal attempt. It was a 47 yard field goal against the Carolina Panthers that sailed wide right. At that moment, I nicknamed him – Maybe. It doesn’t matter if you miss by an inch or a mile, missing’s missing.
Fortunately, Brett “Maybe” Maher righted the ship, eventually making 32 of 33 extra point attempts and 29 of 36 field goals. His longest of the season and current franchise record was a 62 yard field goal to end the first half against the Eagles. That kick was dead center and probably would’ve been good from 65 yards. It was also the longest made field goal by any kicker during the 2018 NFL season.
Numbers don’t lie – Maher finished his first regular season with a field goal percentage of 80.6%. In seven years with the Cowboys, Bailey’s lowest field goal percentage occurred in his last season with the team – 84.4%. Bailey’s seven year field goal percentage with the Cowboys was 88.2%. Clearly, Bailey became the gold standard for kickers in Dallas.
For a team with a coaching staff that prides itself on creating competition at every position, except quarterback, I am waiting to see if Maher is challenged. Bailey had three seasons where he made more than 93% of his field goal attempts.
Maher begins this season on the last year of his contract and is scheduled to earn $570,000. Is 80% accuracy good enough for a field goal kicker? With my insanely high standards, I’m expecting Maher to at least be 100% for every attempt within 45 yards. Is that too much to ask for a player with one job?