The 5 o’clock club is published from time to time during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.
The headline of a story about the Dallas Cowboys place kicker situation caught my attention this week, and I thought it might be worth considering as a conversation starter. Here’s part of that story:
Special teams coach John Fassell sent that message during the team’s rookie minicamp this week. Fassell mentioned veterans like Mason Crosby, Robbie Gould, and Ryan Succop as possible free agent acquisitions, but didn’t draw the line at those who have had success in the NFL in the past when discussing possible additions to the roster.
“We have Tristan on the roster. Anybody else on Earth who is not on the team right now, is under consideration,” Fassel said, via the team’s website. “That’s everyone really. I think we have a lot of different guys that we’re still looking at — XFL, USFL, veterans on the street, younger guys who still haven’t found their way.”
Brett Maher closed out last season as the team’s kicker, but missed five of six extra point attempts in the playoffs.
Washington’s kicker, Joey Slye, had a season that was not dissimilar to Maher’s.
Overall, Slye didn’t have a bad season, hitting 88.5% of his FG attempts prior to the Week 18 game. His misses weren’t really costly either (with one exception). The Commanders won or tied every game in which he missed a field goal, Bears, Packers, Giants and the Cowboys in Week 18.
Of course, it was the tie that was so devastating. A win at the Giants in Week 13 probably would have put Washington into the playoffs. A missed 52-yard field goal contributed to Washington’s inability to secure the critical win.
Slye went 12-for-12 on field goal attempts in Washington in 2021, so, in 23 games wearing burgundy & gold, Slye has an 88.1% FG success rate. He seems to be capable of doing whatever special teams coordinator Nate Kaczor wants done on kickoffs, with the ability to boot it out of the end zone for a touchback, or drop it inside the 5-yard line to force a return.
All in all, Slye seems to be about average for an NFL kicker, though Washington fans tend to be very frustrated with his misses, especially on extra points.
Joey Slye in 2022, per PFF:
- Slye ranked 18th in the league on long field goals (50+ yards);
- He was 20th in the league between 40-49 yards;
- He had one miss (4 out of 5) from 30-39 yards
- He was a perfect 9-9 from inside 30 yards
With even better results on field goals from Maher (12th, 12th, 100% inside 40 yards), the Cowboys parted ways with their kicker, but that was following an epic and nearly unbelievable meltdown in the playoff game against the Buccaneers, when Maher missed 4 extra point attempts, followed by another PAT miss in the Divisional round loss to the 49ers. In all, Maher was 1-6 on PATs in two playoff games. The Cowboys apparently lost faith in Maher and turned to Tristan Vizcaino - though it appears that the search for Maher’s replacement may not be over.
The last time Ron Rivera tried to replace his fairly average kicker who had missed a few kicks, we ended up with Chris Blewitt (whom Joey Slye replaced). In Blewitt’s short 2-game NFL career — both losses — he made just 2 of 5 field goal attempts.
The guy that Blewitt replaced, Dustin Hopkins, has hit 90% of his FG attempts with the Chargers (27-30) and is 42-44 on PATs. He missed only one kick in 2022, a 40+ yarder in a win against the Rams, but ended up playing in only 5 games (none after Week 6) due to a hamstring injury, and he will now have to compete with Cameron Dicker for the Chargers kicking job in 2023.
Who needs a kicker? Luis Aguilar of the USFL's Philadelphia Stars went 8/8 on FGs on Sunday and accounted for all 24 points in a win over the NJ Generals.— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) May 15, 2023
Aguilar made kicks from 56, 55, 51, 49, 42, 36, 27 & 22.
Here's the game-winner from 55 yards out:pic.twitter.com/hAZgkUx9Rz
What should Ron Rivera do at the kicking position in 2023?
This poll is closed
Stick with Slye; changing kickers is always a crap shoot, and Rivera’s track record doesn’t inspire confidence
Bring in preseason/camp competition; let the best kicker win!
Cut him! He should’ve been cut before the end of the ‘22 season.
Which kicker would you like to see Ron Rivera sign?
This poll is closed
Robbie Gould, 40, 49ers
Greg Zuerlein, 35, Jets
Mason Crosby, 38, Packers
Brett Maher, 33, Cowboys
Randy Bullock, 33, Titans
Ryan Succop, 36, Buccaneers
Zane Gonzalez, 28, Panthers
Daniel Gutierrez, undrafted out of UNLV
Get the best guy out of the XFL/USFL
Nobody at all; stick with Slye