Kevin Sherrington, sports columnist for SportsDayDFW.com and The Dallas Morning News, answered your questions about the Cowboys in a live chat recently. Check out the highlights:
If you look at his numbers, he was 10th in the league in points, which is pretty good for a kicker playing for a team that doesn’t score much. Of the nine kickers in front of him on PATs, six had more attempts, and three or four had almost twice as many attempts. Give him that many PATs, and he’s in the top five in the league. His problems were between the 30 and 50, where he was only 13 of 19. On short and long attempts, he was almost automatic. No question he has to be more consistent in mid-range attempts, but that’s a pretty good asset, a guy who can kick a 60-yarder. If he can do that and make short ones, it stands to reason he can improve in mid-range.He wants too much money? Can’t imagine it won’t happen. Might not happen before they have to tag him on March 5, but it’ll get done at some point. The Cowboys can afford to slow play it a little because he’s going to have shoulder surgery for a torn labrum at some point. But they can’t wait too long because he’s said he won’t do anything until a contract gets done. Lots of posturing here. No reason for it. He’s the most valuable player on the defense. Great all-around defensive end. Good pass rusher and good run defender. Plays hard, plays hurt, team leader. No-brainer to get this done.Funny thing is, because of tag, he’s already the second-highest paid DE among 4-3 types. Only Ezekiel Ansah makes more. Olivier Vernon got five years, $85 million from the Giants. I figure Lawrence will get somewhere between that and five years, $100MFind it hard to believe, though he’s still young. Even if another team picks him up this season, he probably will have to miss more games because he reportedly missed drug tests. It’s just always something with Irving. Which is a shame, because he’s a huge talent.
Kristi Scales, sideline reporter for the Dallas Cowboys radio network, answered questions and shared interesting notes about the team during a recent live chat. Here are some highlights:Brett Maher was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week on Wednesday thanks mostly to his 59-yard field goal in Sunday’s win over the Bucs. It’s Maher second time to win the award this season which makes him the first Cowboys kicker in 15 seasons to earn the honor twice in the same season (Billy Cundiff, 2003). He is the second Cowboys’ special teamer to win the award twice in a season since 2013 (Dwayne Harris).Maher’s two awards in 2018 bring the Cowboys’ grand total of NFC Player of the Week honors to five. Do you remember the other three awards? Here’s a hint: two of the three belong to the same star player on offense.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper won NFC Offensive Player of the Week twice: in the Week 12 win over the Redskins with 180 yards and 2 TDs; and the Week 14 home win over the Eagles (3 TDs, 217 receiving yards).
Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch won NFC Defensive Player of the Week thanks to his 19 tackles and first career interception in the win over the Eagles at Philly on November 11.
Those are your five NFC Player of the Week honors for the Cowboys: Brett Maher (2), Amari Cooper (2), and Leighton Vander Esch (1).
La’el Collins is on the books in 2019 with a $7.4 million hit against the cap, then he’ll hit free agency in 2020. Is he someone I would like to sign to an extension before he hits the market, yes. And one reason is that he’s shown he can play multiple positions along the line; he’s been a season-long starter at both guard and tackle. Of course, he would be in line for tackle money, not guard money. Tackles are more expensive than guards, of course.
The Cowboys positional spending at offensive line ($37 million in 2018) is more than any other NFL team. The Jones family will pay premium prices for the guys who open the holes for Zeke and who protect Dak.
If we can, I’d like to take a brief amount of time out of your lives today to talk about No. 2. No, I’m not talking about what goes on in the privacy of the bathroom. I’m talking about the current player on the Dallas Cowboys roster who wears the No. 2 jersey, Kicker Brett Maher.
Brett Maher surprisingly took over the placekicker job last season after outperforming fan favorite Dan Bailey. Bailey was near automatic during his time with the Dallas Cowboys, but unfortunately never returned to his old self after sustaining a groin injury in 2017. He even struggled with the Minnesota Vikings last year, making the Cowboys look pretty smart going with the unknown leg of Maher.
As good as the decision looks now to move on from Dan Bailey, Brett Maher had his ups and downs in 2018 as well. He made 80.6% (29 of 36) of his field goals with the long of 62 and made all but one of his 33 extra point attempts. His big leg came in handy on a number of occasions, but his midrange accuracy left much to be desired.
As things stand right now, Brett Maher is the only player on the entire Dallas Cowboys roster who doesn’t have any competition, making him the unquestioned placekicker heading into the 2019 season. I’m not completely against him resuming his current role this year, but for the Cowboys not to look for an upgrade is uncharacteristically like them.
We all know the Dallas Cowboys pride themselves on creating as much competition throughout the roster as possible. For me, this includes the specialty positions such as kicker, punter, and even long snapper despite how consistently impressive L. P. Ladouceur has been in his 15+ seasons with the Cowboys.
I know a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to see Matt Bryant in a Cowboys uniform this season, but his asking price and age (44) likely causes Dallas to look elsewhere. I wouldn’t rule it out completely considering he made 95.2% of his FGs last season with the Atlanta Falcons and the fact he’s a Texas native, but I also wouldn’t hold my breath on it happening.
The more likely scenario is the Cowboys bring in some younger kickers as a camp leg to see if one of them can unseat Maher. It would probably take some doing considering what a weapon he can be from long distances, but consistency is something that should definitely be factored in as well. Unfortunately, we all know just how important the impact of a missed or made FG can have on the outcome of a ballgame.
With the Dallas Cowboys in “win now” mode, they can’t afford not to look for an upgrade over Brett Maher. So, don’t be surprised if you see another kicker or two added to the roster sometime between now and training camp. Who knows, maybe they can find another diamond in the rough like they did with Dan Bailey when he joined the team as an undrafted free agent.
You might think that kicker is one position the Dallas Cowboys aren’t worried about for 2019. However, despite winning two Player of the Week awards and setting a new Dallas record for longest field goal, Brett Maher’s performance in 2018 left plenty of room for improvement.
When Maher was good last season, he was really good. After surprisingly replacing Dan Bailey as the team’s kicker following the preseason, Brett missed his first kick of the year but then made the next 15. He went 4-for-4 in Dallas’ win over the Detroit Lions, earning the first of his two awards.
In December against Philadelphia, Maher hit a 62-yarder to set the new Cowboys record for distance. Two weeks later he hit a 59-yarder against Tampa Bay.
But along the way, Brett also went just 6-of-8 in field goals ranging from 30-39 yards. He was only 7-of-11 in the 40s. He finished the year with a total accuracy of just 80.6%, ranked just 25th among NFL kickers.
While there’s no denying the intrigue of Maher’s big leg, he clearly was a liability from closer range. The Cowboys have to decide if his overall game makes him a bigger threat to the opposition or to themselves.
The Cowboys might be willing to hope for improvement in the short and mid-range kicking with Maher now being the full-time starter. Last offseason, he was just here to give Dan Bailey some occasional rest. But now he’s the man, and the increased work with Chris Jones and L.P. Ladouceur could make a difference.
But even though Maher is just breaking out in the NFL, he’s still 29 years old. He’s been in offseason program with the Jets and Browns before, and even the Cowboys back in 2013. He’s also kicked in the CFL.
Brett may just be what he is at this point, and the Cowboys can’t be too flippant about the kicker position as they eye a return to the playoffs next year. A single kick can make all the difference in a game, and one game can mean everything in the NFL.
Dallas might be able to do better with some of the impending free agents this offseason. If they don’t get re-signed before March, veterans like Matt Bryant, Robbie Gould, Jason Myers, and Josh Lambo are all set to be on the open market. They all hit 90% or better on their field goals last season.
To get any of them, the Cowboys would have to pay a lot more than the $570k that Maher is due in 2019. They would likely be paying at least $4 million, which is about what Dan Bailey was making his last few years here.
But if your entire season can come down to one kick, how much do you really trust Brett Maher to make it?
That’s the big question for the Cowboys, and they need to decide before the top kickers in the game all get jobs elsewhere. Maher had big moments last season, but does his overall game really make him trustworthy going forward?