If the kicking game costs the Cowboys a game or two this season, don’t blame David Buehler.
Unless a roster move is made, continued field goal failure would fall at the feet of Jerry Jones, so to speak.
The Cowboys drafted Buehler in the fifth-round last year to be a kickoff specialist and special teams player. He excelled in those roles, leading the NFL with 29 touchbacks on kickoffs and contributing on the punt coverage and kickoff return teams.
The idea was that Buehler’s impact would justify devoting an extra roster spot to a specialist. He proved that right, with his kickoff prowess making a field position difference of about 70 yards per game from the previous season.
The Cowboys were committed to Nick Folk as their placekicker for the long term. Those plans had to change when Folk suddenly developed a chronic case of the yips last season.
Buehler wasn’t good enough to take over after Folk tanked last season. After months of honing his craft with ex-Cowboys kicker Chris Boniol, Buehler still doesn’t look like a kicker a contender can rely on, at least not in the limited action that’s been open to the media.
The Cowboys are determined to give Buehler every opportunity to prove he can handle the job. No offense to Connor Hughes and Delbert Alvarado, the other two kickers on the OTA roster, but Buehler really doesn’t have any competition right now.
There will, however, be other options available after training camp and the preseason. If Buehler still looks shaky then, the Cowboys must sign a proven veteran.
One field goal could be the difference between homefield advantage throughout the playoffs and another January trip to Minnesota.
It’d be convenient if the Cowboys only needed to use one roster spot on a kicker, but that’s only wise if it isn’t a gut-wrenching experience every time they line up for a field goal. Another kicker would certainly contribute more than, say, the 10th offensive linemen.
By excelling in the role the Cowboys envisioned when they picked him, Buehler has already proven his value. If he fails on field goals, point the finger at the front office.