Every Cowboys fan is already chomping at the bit to watch America’s Team go back to work this Sunday, but before we discuss whether or not Dallas will come away with a win in Cam Newton’s sandbox, can we clear the air about a very noticeable absence on the roster? It’s not the surprising release of Dez Bryant or tearful retirement of Jason Witten. The man we’re wringing our hands over is the recently released Dan Bailey, the most accurate kicker in Dallas Cowboys’ history.
We may not have been nearly as nostalgic after last season with Bailey battling injuries and whiffing on two extra points and five field goals during the year, but now it’s all shiny and new.
The sins of the past are forgiven, and we were looking forward to Bailey atoning for a career low 2017 season and returning to form. But professional football is a what have you done for me lately business and the man who was signed in the summer of 2013 to kick for Dallas in the preseason while Bailey nursed an injury, has re-emerged five years later after stints in the CFL, to supplant the seven-year starter.
Yes, get to know the name Brett Maher because Dallas’s collective hopes will be riding on his booming leg. Yet, don’t be surprised if somewhere down the road Dan Bailey trots out onto the field and drills a dagger into the hearts of Cowboys fans everywhere as a member of an opposing team.
Moving on to Carolina
A brief check of the NFL odds board tells us that the Dallas Cowboys are only 2 ½ point road underdogs to the Carolina Panthers. But let’s face facts folks, the Cowboys will have plenty of new faces and it may take time for everyone to get to know one another.
Dak Prescott never enjoyed the same chemistry with Dez Bryant as did his predecessor Tony Romo but that doesn’t mean Bryant won’t be missed, even if he’s not the elite receiver he was a few years ago.
Jason Witten may have been a shadow of his former self last season but he still managed five touchdown catches and was a respected, veteran locker room presence whose big shoes will be impossible to fill – at least for this year.
It’s tough to blame us Dallas fans for being a bit frustrated as our beloved Cowboys have notched at least a .500 record in six of the last seven seasons, yet only twice have the ‘Boys earned a postseason berth. And it was just two seasons ago that Dallas registered the best record (13-3) in the NFC only to be bounced in the divisional round by the Packers.
This season Prescott will have Ezekiel Elliott, without the specter of a six-game suspension looming, chewing up yardage in the backfield, but his weapons on the wings are suspect, at best.
Allen Hurns has a fresh chance in Dallas to rekindle the magic of 2015 when he caught 10 TD passes and had 1,031-yards receiving as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but his stablemates consist of Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and rookie Michael Gallup. Impressed? Meh – but the jury is still out.
This is a tough team for Dallas to open against as the Carolina Panthers have a quarterback who can take over a game when he’s inclined in Cam Newton and own a defense that could suffocate the Cowboys if all cylinders are not clicking. There are a great deal of ifs and buts involved in this game but the SBR NFL odds say this one will be pretty close.
Although our hearts are with the Cowboys, our wallets are on the Panthers -2 ½ this Sunday. Prove us wrong Dallas!