Failing to address the issue when they had the chance in April, or even shortly thereafter, the Dallas Cowboys are now hoping against hope they've somehow bucked the odds and found a solution to their kicking woes in mid-December. It took Brett Maher missing 10 field goals in his second year with the club for him to finally be dismissed, leaving the team with a 2019 accuracy rate of 66.7 percent, which includes an abysmal 20 percent accuracy between 40-49 yards and 50 percent from 50 yards or more.
Enter Kai Forbath, who was signed this week in Maher's place after a successful workout on Monday. Although he lacks the leg strength of his predecessor to boot it from 60 yards out, the 32-year-old does boast a higher career accuracy than Maher across distances, and he most recently went 5 for 6 from 50 yards or greater as a member of the Minnesota Vikings in 2017.
Plot twist cometh.
It's not Forbath's first stint with the Cowboys, having been signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011. Sidelined by injury that summer, he was released and the nod was given to a fellow undrafted rookie named Dan Bailey, who went on to become a legend in Dallas before being replaced by Maher in 2018. Bailey now takes up residence for the same Vikings that employed Forbath one year prior to Bailey being cut in Dallas.
Forbath's career took a much different arc after 2011, needless to say, going on to play for six different teams -- his last being the New England Patriots -- before finding his way back to North Texas, and he's bringing with him a career accuracy rate of 85.5 percent and a list of valuable lessons learned.
"Yeah, that's what I learned from college to the NFL," Forbath said. "You have to take every single day serious and treat it like a game and try to get better every day. When you get complacent and take practice for granted, that's when things go bad."
Even if Forbath is flawless from here on out (doubtful in today's landscape of kickers), it will have only resolved one of the many issues holding the Cowboys back from realizing their full potential in 2019. Sitting at 6-7 and barely clinging onto the NFC East lead, they need to fix everything from coaching issues to inconsistent play calling to disheveled play on the field and lack of takeaways if they're truly going to right the ship and make a possible run into and through the playoffs.
Kicking matters, however, as the Cowboys have recently been reminded time and again. To his credit, Forbath, who's been around the block, says the workout was more stressful than kicking in the actual game will be.
"It might be more [pressure in the tryout] actually," he said. "There's very important people watching you kicking each kick. I told my agent I got through the hard part and now let's go make some kicks."
The potentially good news here is the Cowboys will no longer crutch their offense on the belief they can stroll out Maher for a 63-yard kick or a 58-yarder on an opening drive, instead potentially opting to now be more aggressive and push the ball downfield. That's ideally speaking, but whenever Forbath does take the field for his Cowboys debut on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, the silence he'll hear will be 100,000 people refusing to breathe until the ball sails through the uprights.
And it he whiffs, it'll be 100,000 people calling for his head. But hey, no pressure.