Tue, 07 Jul 2020

ST: Pinning Four 2019 Losses on Kicking Game

Dallas Cowboys
03 Jun 2020, 20:24 GMT+10

As we shift into the summer months of the Cowboys' offseason, we will continue to analyze the entire roster with our continued position series.

Each day, we will dissect a different aspect about the position, ranging from position battles, to under-the-radar players to simply answering questions that have yet to be resolved.

This week, we're taking a closer look at the entire special teams unit, a group that cost the Cowboys several times last season.

Tuesday: What We Know Monday: What's New?

Pinning Four 2019 Losses on Kicking Game

What We Know

When a new coordinator takes over a unit, more often than not, a change was needed. If not, there probably wouldn't have been a new coach in the first place. And there is no exception to that rule in terms of the Cowboys' special teams in 2019.

The unit wasn't just inconsistent, but downright costly to the Cowboys' success on too many occasions, especially for a team that finished 8-8 and finished one game out of making the playoffs.

Plain and simple, special teams cost the Cowboys a chance to win in at least four games and perhaps more.

Against the Packers in Week 5, the Cowboys trailed by 10 in the final two minutes but kicker Brett Maher missed a 34-yard field goal to prevent any chance for an onside kick and getting the game to a one-score possession.

Against the Jets the next week, Maher did make a 62-yard field goal, but missed one from 40 in an eventual two-point loss.

Against the Giants in New York, the Cowboys gave up 181 kickoff return yards. Against Minnesota the next week, mass confusion occurred on the sideline at the end of the game. Tavon Austin signaled for a fair catch despite having plenty of room to return a punt and perhaps give the Cowboys a chance to win the game.

And there was New England, where the Cowboys had a punt blocked that led to the Patriots only touchdown. Dallas also couldn't figure out the wind and rain as the weather elements caused all sorts of problems handling kickoffs.

Of those five games, the Cowboys lost four of them. One of those plays might have changed the outcome and that might've been the difference in making the playoffs or sitting home, as the Cowboys did once again.

Can “Chemistry & Pride” Rebuild Special Teams?

What's New?

He didn't say it just once - but probably closer to three or four times when he met with the media back in January. New special teams coach John Fassel knows there will be plenty of changes to his unit this year, and he's not concerned about what happened, or didn't happen, with the special teams in 2019.

So forgive him if he says "blank slate" a few times as he tries to turn things around for the special teams in 2020.

Fassel is a veteran coach who has helped put Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler in the Pro Bowl for Oakland and then Greg Zuerlein, who has now joined him in Dallas and will compete for the place-kicking duties.

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