A position taken for granted is the kicker, but the Dallas Cowboys know better than to take it for granted. The release of Greg Zuerlein was a kick to special teams coordinator John Fassell, whom he had coached with the Rams for a number of years together.
However, a league-worst 24 points missed from total kicks (field goals and extra points combined) was enough for the Cowboys to say enough is enough.
Subsequently, the Cowboys undrafted signing of Jonathan Garibay, and return of Lirim Hajrullahu gives coach Fassell a competition of guys he himself likes. With the rookie free agent Garibay as the early favorite, despite Hajrullahu having played for the Cowboys for a game in 2021. Making all his kicks.
How’ve They Looked?
Unfortunately, the results have been mixed, at best. Neither kicker is consistently making kicks from close or long range. Kicks falling short, or shanking outside. At the moment, Hajrullahu has a slight, yet ugly lead.
Cowboys kicking woes continue. Garibay was 4 of 9 today. Hajrullahu Was 7 of 9 with an awful final miss— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) August 6, 2022
As Cowboys’ kicker competition continues, Lirim Hajrullahu continues to separate himself. He was 7-of-9 (made six of final seven). Undrafted rookie Jonathan Garibay: 4-of-9. He missed three of final four, the last of which was this one from 49. pic.twitter.com/tb5Y116TRQ— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 6, 2022
A failure with pressure on the line by kicker Jonathan Garibay. pic.twitter.com/RPVKhLEiqD— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) August 6, 2022
On the other hand, there have been positive instances as well. From both kickers. Hajrullahu displaying the same accuracy that lead to his return, and Garibay displaying his power.
The same power that the Dallas Cowboys coveted from him coming out of Texas Tech.
Jonathan Garibay missed from 55 but made this one from 53 pic.twitter.com/M4IJvC6v7m— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 1, 2022
Cowboys kicker Lirim Hajrullahu continued fast start to camp, including this make from 55. He went 7-of-8 for second straight live FG session. Lost footing on miss from 48. Rookie Jonathan Garibay was better today than Saturday. Two misses. One from 55, which he later made. pic.twitter.com/MHHDqAKcwP— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 1, 2022
Granted, it’s still early in the preseason. There are instances of wind affecting the ball, as well as bad snaps from Jake McQuaide.
The Owner’s Opinion
No matter the difference, owner Jerry Jones claims to not be bothered by the number of misses from both players.
“I know we’re challenged there against the wind out there. I’d like to see them in the calmness of the stadium. Hitting those 32 yarders which happens to be the extra point. Let’s get that down. That’s where I want consistency right there.”
As much of a down-play as it might be, the Dallas Cowboys only have themselves to blame if another kicker issue comes from this season. While letting Zuerlein go, they opted to not use a potential draft pick on a higher kicker, or explore other options.
At the moment, the kicker market is incredibly razor thin. The players with the most experience are names like Michael Badgley, Matthew Wright, Matt Amendola and former Dallas Cowboys kicker Kai Forbath.
Unfortunately, the market is not much better than who’s currently in camp.
In all likelihood, this competition will extend until the final preseason game at home against the Seattle Seahawks. Meaning, if these inconsistency’s continue, we might not see the front office address the position until a few games into the season.
A rinse and repeat approach to a position of glaring weakness seems to be the Cowboys preference. It’s still early, but one or both of these players will need to make kicks in games to alleviate the clear concern.
Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports