This post contains affiliate links. “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
FRISCO, Texas – In 2007, Mike McCarthy was 44 years old and in his second year as Green Bay Packers head coach. He was still learning the subject and the emotions would sometimes flare up, especially with a novice kicker.
McCarthy is now 58 and facing a pressured 2022 as he enters his third season as Dallas Cowboys coach and is likely to face a similarly uncertain kicking situation that could cause his emotions to flare up again.
At the Packers in 2007, Mason Crosby was a sixth round. As 2022 begins, McCarthy is not entirely sure who will be the Dallas kicker.
The Cowboys have only one on their 90-man list – Jonathan Garibay, who has not been drafted from Texas Tech.
In all likelihood, the Cowboys will add another kicker before flying to Oxnard, California, for training camp in July, but the various veterans available have resumes that do not guarantee more success than Garibay.
It is possible that the Cowboys will re-sign Chris Naggar, who was released before the rookie minicamp this spring. He has kicked an NFL game in. They are likely to keep an eye on kicker fights across the NFL this summer, and may even look to the USFL for help.
“Patience,” said a smiling McCarthy when asked what it’s like to have such a dilemma at kicker.
How is his patience these days?
“Better today than I was in 2007, I would say,” McCarthy said. “It was a good experience.”
In 2007, Crosby made 31 out of 39 field goal attempts when the Packers came to the NFC Championship Game. He hit a 42-yard touchdown in his first game to beat the Philadelphia Eagles, and none of his misses came in a game that Green Bay lost.
In the one session he kicked during an off-season training that was open to the media, Garibay showed a strong leg. He made several kicks from 50 yards, but also had a miss from 55 and a 53-yarder ticked from the right upright. McCarthy believes the experience of snapper Jake McQuaide and holder Bryan Anger will help.
“You can definitely get a feel for his abilities,” McCarthy said. “… He’s got off to a good start. He’s just young.”
Crosby had a better collegiate resume than Garibay, though Garibay made a 62-yard touchdown to beat Iowa State and help Texas Tech become bowl-qualified. It was the longest mark in FBS last season. Garibay only missed one attempt all year (15 of 16) and was a first-team All-Big 12 pick. In 2020, I made 8-of-11 attempts.
“As a kicker, you always dream of such moments, just to have the opportunity,” Garibay said. “I live by the saying that I would rather be ready for an opportunity and not have it, then have one and not be ready for it. I think when it came down to it, I was excited about that opportunity to kick the field goal. “
The Cowboys’ kicking situation last season was too shaky, even for a team that finished 12-5 and won the NFC East.
Greg Zuerlein missed six field goal attempts last season as three of the Cowboys’ five losses were settled by less than three points. He missed at least one kick in each of those games, even though he made a 56-yard touchdown to beat the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2.
The Cowboys stayed in Zuerlein’s corner and thought (hope?) That the veteran would find his form after not kicking in the offseason and through almost the entire training camp due to a back operation. In March, they decided to move on from his $ 2.2 million salary, even though they almost resigned him before joining the New York Jets.
How the Cowboys handle the position goes back to the 1990s, when they relied on former special team coach Steve Hoffman to find a cost-effective kicker, and he found them mostly with 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 list – Dan Bailey, David Buehler, Dave Rayner, Shayne Graham and Kai Forbath.
Bailey, who was not drafted out of Oklahoma State, won the job and at one point became the most accurate kicker in NFL history. I have made 32 out of 37 field-goal attempts as a rookie.
Under the Bailey model, Garibay would have an inside edge.
At least right now, months before the fights start, where McCarthy’s patience is high.
“It means they expect a lot from me,” Garibay said. “In the end, I expect a lot from myself … It’s very mental. It’s primarily mental. There are a lot of good guys out there who have the strength, who are really good kickers, who have power and accuracy. Just sometimes it’s a mental thing.It’s 99 percent mental and the other 1 percent is probably mental too.
“I think there are high expectations and I’m just trying to do what I’re always done – focus on myself, not focus on the competition, and take it one kick at a time. That’s the mentality you’ve got to have – one by one all the time. “