The Cowboys Have Ongoing Kickoff Woes

A couple of weeks ago, I asked in a post whether the 2009 draft was the worst in team history. Out of 243 voters, 58% believed that the 2009 was indeed the worst.

The best pick in that draft up this point was kicker David Buehler, but he is obviously struggling.  What is especially maddening about his struggles is that he is not showing he would be effective as a kickoff specialist, which was the reason why Dallas drafted him in the first place.

It appeared last year that Buehler would have cured the Cowboys’ kickoff woes that have existed for at least a decade. Buehler’s 67.4-yard average on kickoffs ranked 6th among those with at least 10 kickoffs, and his 29 touchbacks were the most in the league. This year, Buehler’s kickoff length of 61.4 yards ranks only 31st in the league, while his six touchbacks rank only 17th.

This type of performance on kickoffs is not at all unusual for the Cowboys since the 2000 season. Dallas kickers typically rank in the bottom third in terms of kickoff length, and with the exception of Buehler’s 29 touchbacks last year, no Dallas kicker has had more than eight touchbacks in a season. Of course, Buehler may improve in the final seven games, but three of his six touchbacks this year came in one game against Tennessee. That was the same game in which a long kickoff return by the Titans ended up costing the Cowboys the game (albeit thanks to a celebration penalty).

I realize that kickoff length only tells part of the story, because some kickers are very skilled at kicking directionally to set up the coverage unit. However, I don’t think many would argue that those on the list below were especially skilled at directional kicking. Others may disagree.

Here’s a look at the basic kickoff statistics since 2000. In a few of these years, Dallas had multiple kickers. The kicker listed is the one who had the most kickoffs.

2000, Micah Knorr

Average kickoff length: 63.9 (ranked 13th)

Touchbacks: 8 (ranked 10th)

2001, Micah Knorr

Average kickoff length: 58.8 (ranked 32nd)

Touchbacks: 4 (ranked 21st)

2002, Billy Cundiff

Average kickoff length: 58.8 (ranked 32nd)

Touchbacks: 4 (ranked 21st)

2003, Toby Gowin

Average kickoff length: 62.8 (ranked 14th)

Touchbacks: 2

2004, Billy Cundiff

Average kickoff length: 61.7 (ranked 23rd)

Touchbacks: 3 (ranked 18th)

2005, Billy Cundiff

Average kickoff length: 63.2 (ranked 13th)

Touchbacks: 1 (ranked 27th)

2006, Mike Vanderjagt

Average kickoff length: 59.9 (ranked 36th)

Touchbacks: 3 (ranked 29th)

2007, Nick Folk

Average kickoff length: 62.6 (ranked 18th)

Touchbacks: 4 (ranked 28th)

2008, Nick Folk

Average kickoff length: 60.5 (ranked 35th)

Touchbacks: 0

2009, David Buehler

Average kickoff length: 67.4 (ranked 6th)

Touchbacks: 29 (ranked 1st)

2010, David Buehler

Average kickoff length: 61.4 (ranked 31st)

Touchbacks: 6 (ranked 17th)

  • Ronsite_81

    Rafael. Efren, where are you??????????

  • Rafael is selling bogus time-shares in Mexico, heh.rnrnWhat I want to know is…how in the world does Billy Cundiff already have 25 touchbacks in half a season when he never had more than 3 in an entire season before? Steroids? Hmmn, he was out of the league for a couple of years when he wouldn’t be tested. There’s no other freakin’ explanation!!