Why are the Dallas Cowboys not concerned about the kicker position?
I can't for the life of me figure out why Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Wade Phillips feel so comfortable heading into training camp with unproven kicker David Buehler as the presumed starter. The Cowboys know what it's like to be held hostage at that position, because it hasn't been that long since Mike Vanderjagt flopped in Dallas.
Bill Parcells had a terrible time deciding on a kicker as he went through the likes of Billy Cundiff, Jose Cortez and Martin Gramatica. In '09, Buehler had tremendous value as a kickoff specialist. He led the league in touchbacks and he also played a role on the kickoff return and punt coverage units. Now, the Cowboys are asking Buehler to take over place-kicking duties, which doesn't appear to be his strength. At a recent workout inside Cowboys Stadium, Buehler missed badly on a couple of attempts.
Former Cowboys kicker Chris Boniol has signed on as a consultant, but apparently his advice hasn't sunk in yet. I think Buehler is a remarkable talent who will eventually have success as a kicker in this league, but it's unwise to hand him the job without serious competition.
It almost seems like Jones and Phillips are trying to build Buehler's confidence with positive quotes to the media, but those will only get him so far. Buehler still seems like a developmental kicker at this point in his career. A team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations can't leave the kicking game to chance. Yet the Cowboys seem completely at ease with Buehler. Surely special-teams coach Joe DeCamillis has someone else in mind if Buehler's not ready for prime time.
The Cowboys watched the talented Nick Folk have a meltdown last season, and former Redskins kicker Shaun Suisham was not the answer. With that in mind, it's hard to believe Dallas is placing so much trust in Buehler. Nothing against blind faith, but that's not the approach I'd take in a season that holds such promise.
Both the Cowboys and Redskins are likely to begin the 2010 season with unproven kickers. And I think that's a recipe for failure. You can get by at times with a shaky place-kicker, but at some point it could become a problem. Now I'm curious to see what you think. Am I wrong to think that Buehler's a huge question mark heading into training camp? Should I go at least two weeks without writing about this issue?
I'm OK with that.