Dallas Cowboys rolling with rookie kicker? Mike McCarthy urges patience – Dallas Cowboys Blog

FRISCO, Texas – In 2007, Mike McCarthy was 44 and in his second year as head coach of the Green Bay Packers. He was still learning the craft and sometimes emotions would flare up, especially with a rookie kicker.

Now 58, McCarthy faces a punchy 2022 as he enters his third season as coach of the Dallas Cowboys and is likely to face a similarly unsafe kicking situation that could reignite his emotions.

With the Packers in 2007, Mason Crosby was a sixth-round pick. As 2022 begins, McCarthy isn’t quite sure who Dallas’ kicker will be.

The Cowboys only have one on their 90-man roster – Jonathan Garibay, who was not drafted by Texas Tech.

In all likelihood, the Cowboys will add another kicker before flying to Oxnard, Calif., for training camp in July, but the various veterans available have resumes that don’t guarantee success any more than Garibay.

It’s possible the Cowboys will re-sign Chris Naggar, who was released ahead of this spring’s rookie mini-camp. He kicked in an NFL game. They’ll likely be keeping an eye on kicker fights across the NFL this summer and might even turn to the USFL for help.

“Patience,” said a smiling McCarthy when asked what it’s like to have such a dilemma at kicker.

How’s his patience these days?

“Better today than in 2007, I have to say,” said McCarthy. “It was a good experience.”

In 2007, Crosby made 31 of 39 field goal attempts as the Packers made it to the NFC Championship Game. He hit a 42-yarder in his first game to beat the Philadelphia Eagles, and none of his misses came in a game Green Bay lost.

In the one session he kicked during an off-season practice session open to the media, Garibay showed off a strong leg. He made several kicks from 50 yards but also had a miss from 55 and a 53-yarder ticked off the right post. McCarthy thinks the experience of snapper Jake McQuaide and defending champion Bryan Anger will be helpful.

“You can definitely get a sense of his ability,” McCarthy said. “…He’s off to a good start. He’s just young.”

Crosby had a better college resume than Garibay, although Garibay made a 62-yarder to beat Iowa State and help Texas Tech get bowlable. It was the longest mark in FBS last season. Garibay missed just one try all year (15 of 16) and was a first-team All-Big 12 pick. In 2020, he made 8 out of 11 attempts.

“Man, as a footballer you always dream of moments like that, just having the opportunity,” said Garibay. “I live by the adage that I’d rather be ready for an opportunity and not have it than have one and not be ready for it. I think when it comes down to it, I was excited about this opportunity to shoot that field goal.”

The Cowboys’ kicking situation last season was too shaky, even for a team that went 12-5 and won the NFC East.

Greg Zuerlein missed six field goal attempts last season when three of the Cowboys’ five losses were decided by less than three points. He missed at least one kick in each of those games, despite hitting a 56-yarder in Week 2 to beat the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Cowboys stayed in Zuerlein’s corner, believing (hoping?) the veteran would find his form after not kicking the offseason and most of training camp due to back surgery. In March, they decided to give up his $2.2 million salary, even though they nearly re-signed him before he joined the New York Jets.

How the Cowboys are handling the position dates back to the 1990s when they relied on former special teams coach Steve Hoffman to find an inexpensive kicker and he found them mostly in the likes of Chris Boniol, Richie Cunningham and Lin Elliott.

In recent years their approach has been similar to 2011 when they had five kickers on the training camp roster – Dan Bailey, David Buehler, Dave Rayner, Shayne Graham and Kai Forbath.

Bailey, who was not drafted out of Oklahoma, won the job and eventually became the most prolific kicker in NFL history. As a rookie, he made 32 of 37 field goal attempts.

According to the Bailey model, Garibay would have an inside edge.

At least for now, months before the games start, when McCarthy’s patience is at its peak.

“It means they expect a lot from me,” Garibay said. “At the end of the day, I expect a lot from myself. … It’s a lot mental. It’s mainly mental. There are a lot of great guys out there that have the power that are really good kickers that have power and accuracy. Just sometimes it’s a mental thing. It’s 99 percent mental and the other 1 percent is probably mental as well.

“I think there’s a lot of expectation and I’m just trying to do what I’ve always done – focus on myself, not the competition, and take it one step at a time. That’s the mentality you have to have – always one for one.”

https://www.espn.com/blog/dallas-cowboys/post/_/id/4775200/dallas-cowboys-rolling-with-rookie-kicker-mike-mccarthy-urges-patience Dallas Cowboys rolling with rookie kicker? Mike McCarthy urges patience – Dallas Cowboys Blog

Emma Bowman

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