Tuesday’s practice featured a rough scene for the Dallas Cowboys special teams. The team has essentially declared an open competition for the kicker role ahead of the 2022 season with Lirim Hajrullahu and Jonathan Garibay as the contenders.
On Monday, Hajrullahu had the slight early edge. On Tuesday, it’s tough to say who won because the truth is neither did.
The Cowboys decided to open practice with multiple attempts as both kickers struggled to be consistent. Lirim had four straight misses while Garibay went 1-for-3 in his final three attempts (48 and 52 yards).
It’s worth noting that there were some issues with the snaps, so Garibay and Hajrullahu shouldn’t receive all of the blame.
The kicker battle has some competition now. Rookie Jonathan Garibay went 6-8. Made his first five attempts. Lirim Hajrullahu was 3-8. At one point he missed four consecutive kicks. Deep snapper Jake McQuaide didn’t have a good day with the snaps. A few were high and low.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) August 2, 2022
Later in practice, it was “Mojo Time.” The drill has become a staple of the McCarthy Cowboys. It consists of an improvised, situational football drill that can occur at any point during practice. It’s supposed to take players off guard and have them react appropriately as they should in a game setting.
This time, the kickers had to make three consecutive attempts (49, 54, and 59 yards respectively). Lirim went 1-for-3, missing the two longest ones. Garibay missed the three.
Calvin Watkins from Dallas Morning News noted on Twitter that these attempts were made into the wind, something that Jerry Jones also brought up after practice was over.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the field-goal inefficiency today “didn’t bother me” because of how the wind contributed. Would like to see more short attempts, such as extra points. https://t.co/Nvjq0pNXsi pic.twitter.com/ccNL3D6sm6— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 2, 2022
Cowboys Nation’s initial reaction is to go ask the front office to hurry and press that big red panic button that we assume exists somewhere in Oxnard. It probably has an all-caps “PANIC” sign on it. Sign a free agent and fix this!
Well, that’s easier said than done.
Why Cowboys shouldn’t panic after special teams debacle
Beyond the wind comments mentioned above – I mean, to be fair, two of the “Mojo” attempts were 54 yards or longer – the reality is there isn’t a great kicker waiting for the Cowboys to call.
The top available kickers that show up in Spotrac when using their database are far from uninspiring. Let’s take a look.
Michael Badgley, 27 years old: Went 24/53 in 2020 (73%) and has gone 2/8 in 50+ yard attempts since 2019. He had a slightly better season last year but ultimately had an 82% FG percentage in only 21 attempts.
Sam Ficken, 29 years old: Went 19/27 (70%) in 2019, his season with most FG attempts. Attempted 15 field goals in 2020 (87%) and didn’t play in 2021 after heading to IR with the Titans before Week 1.
Matthew Wright shows up on the list next, who’s had 28 career attempts and was good for 89% last year in Jacksonville. Quite honestly, he might be the better option out there and that might be because of a low sample size.
Matt Amendola went 13/19 last year, good for a 68% FG rate.
Keep in mind that the free agents at kicker weren’t much better back in March when free agency initially opened.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a reason for concern at kicker for the Dallas Cowboys. Hopefully, either Garibay or Hajrullahu starts showing us something entering the preseason.
But if you’re frustrated about the Cowboys not doing anything about it, it might get worse, not better, if they do. Unlike at wide receiver.
Featured image Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports