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

Jess Haynie

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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!

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Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick

Jess Haynie

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Devin Smith

The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.

Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:

Jason Bernstein on Twitter

Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh

Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.

Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.

The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.

For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!



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Dallas Cowboys

Breaking: Scott Linehan and Dallas Cowboys Part Ways

John Williams

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Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New "Wrinkles" in Cowboys Offense

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan have mutually agreed to part ways following a tumultuous season that saw the Dallas Cowboys offense finish outside the top 12 three out of his four seasons in Dallas.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Sources: The #Cowboys are firing OC Scott Linehan. Taking their offense in a new direction. An announcement is coming.

Scott Linehan was brought in prior to the 2015 season and saw his offenses finish 31st, fifth, 14th, and 22nd in his four years as the Cowboys play caller. The 2015 season can be excused as the Cowboys rolled out Kellen Moore, Matt Cassell, and Brandon Weeden for 13 starts after Tony Romo was injured twice during the season, but the team 2-11 in those 13 starts and the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs despite a strong performance on the defensive side of the football.

The Cowboys saw an offense that finished fifth in the NFL in points in 2016 decline each of the last two offseasons and Linehan has been continually criticized by analysts, fans, and players as well.

Many believe that the reason that Dez Bryant and Brice Butler weren't brought back in the offseason was because of the public criticism of the offense and the play caller instilling the offense and that criticism has carried over to this season when Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper acknowledged that the Philadelphia Eagles were sitting on the slant routes that they had run all game. Dak mentioned that he changed Amari's route to a go route, which led to a 75 yard touchdown that helped open up the offense.

Cole Beasley has been frustrated with his role for much of the season and deservedly so. He was often non-existent in the offensive game plan until the final five minutes of football games.

In the running game, the offense had become too predictable and reliant upon jumbo formations that led to Ezekiel Elliott having to run against eight in the box anywhere from 25-30% of the time. For perspective, Todd Gurley only ran against eight-man fronts around eight percent of the time. Scott Linehan never looked to attempt to take players out of the box, instead insisting on motioning more players into the box for the offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott to run against. It's amazing when you think about it, that Ezekiel Elliott was able to win the rushing title when facing loaded fronts as often as he did.

This was a move that needed to happen and the Dallas Cowboys didn't need to waste anymore time to make it happen. The offense had become stale and frustrating for the players as well as the fans. While Jason Garrett started the offseason saying he "didn't expect any changes," this was a move that absolutely had to happen for the offense to take a step forward. Below, you can read Jason Garrett's announcement on the move.

Mike Garafolo on Twitter

Cowboys have fired Scott Linehan

Even after the move for Amari Cooper, the offense looked better, but it still struggled at times to move the football.

The Cowboys have a young team with especially young players on the offensive side of the football. They have a quarterback who can throw from the pocket, but has excellent movement skills and capabilities of throwing the ball on the run. He's an excellent runner on designed runs. Despite us knowing all that, Scott Linehan looked reluctant to use him on designed quarterback runs that weren't read options or speed options. What you saw on designed runs in the Seattle game is what this team should be doing five times a game.

Now the question becomes, who should the Cowboys next offensive coordinator be? Our own, Staff Writer Brian Martin, laid out 5 Options to be the Next Offensive Coordinator earlier this week. I suggest you give it a read.



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DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.

Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.

One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.

ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t

DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.

Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.

Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.



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