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Brett Maher, Dan Bailey Both Validated Cowboys’ Decision at Kicker

Jess Haynie



Brett Maher, Dan Bailey Both Validated Cowboys' Decision at Kicker

While releasing Dez Bryant tops the list of controversial offseason moves by the 2018 Dallas Cowboys, the decision to cut Dan Bailey and replace him with Brett Maher may have been second. And while many remain dubious about what happened to Dez, there's no questioning that Dallas made the right call by switching kickers.

You could look solely at Maher's performance and feel good about what the Cowboys did. Bailey made just 75% of his field goals in 2017 and Maher raised that to 80% this year.

That's not to say 80% is any great accomplishment. Of kickers who attempted 20 or more field goals this year, Maher was close to the bottom in overall accuracy.

But Dan Bailey was even closer.

As a member of the Minnesota Vikings, Bailey again made just 75% of his field goals in 2018. And unlike last season, there was no reported injury that was contributing to his struggles.

You could argue that Dallas' best move would have been to find some other kicker than either of these guys, and there'd be some logic to that. After all, neither was that accurate compared to the better NFL kickers.

Here is a full comparison of Maher and Bailey's field goal work this season, broken down by the lengths of their kicks:

20-29 30-39 40-49 50+
Maher 10/10 6/8 7/11 6/7
Bailey 5/6 11/11 4/9 1/2


What can we take from this? You hate to see those two misses by Maher in the 30s, but Bailey had one from even closer in. And neither was exactly money from 40-49 yards out, though Maher's 64% is far preferable to just 44% from Bailey.

The real story here is what happened from 50 yards out or more. This was never Bailey's forte; he only made two-thirds of his kicks from this distance over his entire career.

Maher, though, has emerged as one of the best long-range weapons in football. He made six of his seven kicks from this distance, two of which were from 62 and 59 yards out. He now has the two longest field goals in Cowboys franchise history.

These would have been two punts during the Dan Bailey era. Instead, Brett Maher gave you six points.

This isn't just a novelty. Imagine that you're in a last-minute or sudden death scenario. Maher's range gives your offense a 10-yard cushion to get into FG range. You can get to the opponent's 40-45 yard line to give him a legit shot at a game-winning kick

Meet Brett Maher, the Cowboys Kicker Replacing Dan Bailey for 2018

Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher (Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports)

Not only did Maher outperform Bailey this year, but he did it for fraction of the price.

Brett's compensation for 2018 was just $480k. Bailey was scheduled to count $4.2 million against the Cowboys' salary cap this year.

Even with the rough season in 2017, Dan's history and name value still got him nearly $2 million this year from the Vikings.

Clearly, Dallas saw something in these two kickers during the last training camp and preseason. Maybe they really loved Maher's distance, or perhaps they were more worried about Bailey not ever getting back to what he used to be.

Or maybe they thought the kickers would perform similarly, so they simply went with the guy who cost a lot less.

Whatever motivated the decision, both kickers validated that choice with their performances in 2018. Maher hit a couple of game winners and set new franchise records. He won two Special Teams Player of the Week awards.

Meanwhile, Bailey perhaps played his way out of the NFL.

Obviously, we appreciate everything that Dan Bailey accomplished during his time with the Cowboys. He was the most accurate kicker in NFL history for much of that run, and is easily the best to ever do it in Dallas.

But for 2018, Brett Maher was the right man for the job. Credit goes to the Cowboys for recognizing that and taking the risk.

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!


Dallas Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott vs Byron Jones Part II: The Case For Paying Zeke

John Williams



New York Giants are 2-1 Against Cowboys With Ezekiel Elliott

It's a debate that has raged on social media for some time now and it likely won't slow down as the offseason progresses and the Dallas Cowboys begin to hand out massive contracts to their top players. Pay Ezekiel Elliott? Pay Byron Jones? If you could only pay one, which would you pay?

This week fellow Inside The Star Staff Writer, Kevin Brady took to Twitter to poll the populous and his results were a bit surprising to me.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

if you can only pay one it should be

The results inspired me to see what would happen if I put the same poll on my timeline.

John Williams ✭ on Twitter

Inspired by my teammate @KevinBrady88, if you can only pay one, which would it be?

On Monday, Kevin wrote a piece looking at one of the difficult decisions facing the Dallas Cowboys this offseason or next. If the Cowboys could only extend Byron Jones OR Ezekiel Elliott, who should they choose? Kevin, as am I, is a firm believer in Byron Jones ability and says the Cowboys should extend them, and I agree. But let's look at the other side of the argument.

To begin, the Cowboys should and probably will get both guys contract extensions either this offseason or next. It's not impossible with the cap continuing to increase at a rate of about $8-12 million per year that the Cowboys will have the space to get the deals done that they need to get done. Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones included.

Byron Jones settled in nicely at cornerback during his first full season at cornerback and knowing what we know about Jones, he won't be satisfied with a second team All-Pro appearance. Expect him to get better. However, if there's a single player that represents the current identity of the Dallas Cowboys, it's Running Back Ezekiel Elliott.

The Cowboys made him the fourth overall pick in 2016 and haven't looked back in their plan to establish the running game. For his career Elliott has averaged 26.9 touches per game over the course of his 40 games.

Here's a look at what Elliott's per game and per 16 game paces look like through the first three seasons of his career.

As you can see from the table above, Ezekiel Elliott is averaging 131.2 total yards per game for his career. In his rookie season he had 1,994 total yards and he sat out the week 17 game against the Philadelphia Eagles when the Cowboys had the NFC and home field advantage locked up. In 2017, Elliott sat out six games and still had nearly 1,000 yards rushing. In 2018, Elliott broke through the 2,000 total yard barrier after seeing a huge increase in his targets and receptions.

Ezekiel Elliott has been everything the Dallas Cowboys could have hoped for and more. With the leadership role he's taken with the team, he's a player that leads both vocally and by example. There are few players on the Dallas Cowboys that give as much effort as he does each snap. How many times has it looked like Elliott was about to get dropped for a two or three yard loss only to grind through tackles to pick up a four yard gain? How many times has he bounced off tacklers to get to the first down marker? Ezekiel Elliott is the human personification of dirty yards, but don't let that fool you into thinking that Elliott can't take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Elliott's is a game breaker who threatens the defense every time he steps on the field.

In 2018, Elliott led the NFL in yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus. His 949 yards after contact in 2018 would have ranked 13th in the NFL in rushing, which was better than David Johnson's 940 yards rushing last season.

Not many running backs effect a football game like Ezekiel Elliott does.

Few players outside of the quarterback position are as much of a focal point for their offense while being an attention grabber for opposing defenses like Ezekiel Elliott is. In 2018, he saw eight or more men in the box on nearly 25% of his carries in 2018. Some of that is related to the Dallas Cowboys insistence on using two tight ends on 50% of their running plays (per Sharp Football), but the other aspect is related to how much they respect the Dallas Cowboys running game. Since the 2014, the Cowboys have been synonymous with running the football. DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, and now Ezekiel Elliott have been the faces of that running game behind the Cowboys elite offensive line.

Even in a down year for offensive line play from the Dallas Cowboys, Elliott still managed to lead the NFL in rushing for the second time in three seasons. Elliott made the Pro Bowl for the second time in three years as well. Were it not for the railroad job done by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2017, there's a really good chance that Elliott leads the league in rushing three years in a row and that the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs all three seasons.

Sure, the running back position is undervalued in the NFL and rushing yardage can be replaced, but there are intangibles to Elliott's game that are very difficult to replace. His ability to grind out the dirty yards, break big plays, create yards after contact, pass protect, be a threat as a receiver, and his leadership make him a player that is difficult to replace.

Yes, Byron Jones was really good in 2018 and deserves to get paid by the Dallas Cowboys as well, but you'd be hard pressed to find a player on the Cowboys roster who has been as consistent and dominating week in and week out as Ezekiel Elliott has been over the last three years.

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Player News

BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

Brian Martin



BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source.

The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.

During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.

After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.

This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.

Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!

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Player News

REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur

Jess Haynie



L.P. Ladouceur

L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.

Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark...

Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.

Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.

Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.

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