Dallas Cowboys: Is special teams cause for concern?

Greg Zuerlein, Los Angeles Rams (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Greg Zuerlein, Los Angeles Rams (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Is Greg Zuerlein the answer at kicker or will the Dallas Cowboys continue to struggle on special teams?

Since Dan Bailey‘s injury in 2017, the Dallas Cowboys have struggled to find consistency in the kicking game. Last year’s issues with Brett Maher won’t be easily forgotten. Even with the signing of kicker Greg Zuerlein, who reunites special teams coordinator John Fassel, there’s a certain sense of uneasiness surrounding special teams — for me at least.

With Brett Maher’s 10 missed kicks last season, the Cowboys defense was put in some vulnerable situations. Between the lost points on offense and the points given up on defense as a result of field position, Maher’s inconsistencies almost certainly cost the Cowboys some games.

While Kai Forbath provided some temporary stability at the position, the Cowboys opted to go in a new direction this offseason by signing former Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein to a three-year, $7.5 million deal ($3.5 million guaranteed). That’s a lot of money and trust in a guy coming off one of the worst seasons of his career.

Last season with the Los Angeles Rams, Zuerlein hit on just 24 of his 33 field goal attempts, just a 72.7% field goal percentage. That’s not much better than Maher’s 66.7%. More alarming, Zuerlein was just 5 of 11 from the 40-49 yard range. That doesn’t inspire much confidence.

Now it’s worth mentioning that Zuerlein was dealing with a foot injury last season but is that supposed to make Cowboys fans feel comfortable? There’s no guarantee he’ll return to form, especially since his kicking percentage has dipped since his career-high in 2017.

Zuerlein has a career field goal percentage of 82%. But we all know how fragile kickers can be. The mental aspect is, a lot of times, more difficult to overcome than the physical part. If there’s even a slight bit of doubt in Zuerlein’s mind regarding his foot, we could very easily see him go the Dan Bailey route.

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With a roster as talented as this one, the Dallas Cowboys absolutely can not afford another season of kicking woes. There’s a chance a healthy Greg Zuerlein comes in and returns to his Pro Bowl form. But there’s also a part of me that’s slightly worried.