The pressure is on Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein after he missed two field goals and an extra point in the team’s two-point loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the season opener. Heading into Week 2, the Cowboys signed kicker Lirim Hajrullahu to the team’s practice squad sending a not-so-subtle message to Zuerlein.
During his first media session since the signing, Zuerlein appeared to take the news in stride and admitted he would have been “surprised if they didn’t” add a kicker after his performance.
“I would be surprised if they didn’t,” Zuerlein told reporters. “That was a bad game, no skirting around that, but I think everyone in this organization wants to win, and so whether there’s a kicker here or not, doesn’t affect what I do. I’m still going to go out there and practice, get my reps and put my best foot forward. It’s the same for everybody else. It’s just [for] kickers there’s usually only one and so that’s just the way it is.”
McCarthy on Zuerlein’s Misses: ‘You’d Like to See Him Make Those Kicks’
After the loss, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy expressed confidence in Zuerlein moving forward but admitted he would have liked to see a better outing from the veteran kicker. McCarthy noted he had “great faith” in Zuerlein but added the team needs “all the points you can get” in close games like they had in Week 1.
“Obviously, you’d like to see him make those kicks,” McCarthy said, per NFL.com. “Greg was part of the reason I went for the 60-yard [field goal]. I have great faith and confidence in him, and we need him. He made the clutch, clutch kick there at the end to give us the lead before the two-minute drive of Tampa. You get into a game like that, you need all the points you can get.”
Zuerlein: ‘No One Feels Worse About Missing Than Me’
Zuerlein was asked how he prepares to get back on track after a rough start to the season. The kicker explained he starts with film study of what went wrong then tries to put the misses in perspective.
“Well, you start by, for me personally, I go in and watch the film,” Zuerlein explained. “Figure out what I was doing, break it down nice and slow and then the mental part is probably the harder part. It’s just realizing that the world isn’t ending. I did poorly, I understand that, but I’m still alive. God woke me up in the morning, the sun rose, life goes on. No one feels worse about missing than me. I have to get that fixed, but just some slight perspective.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expressed confidence in Zuerlein moving forward but did not sound the most patient in his response to the missed kicks.
“I felt like we really paid the price of not having our kicker in training camp,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan, per USA Today. “I look back and when you don’t have a kicker that’s real active in training camp, you may be kidding yourself in early ball games is he really ready to go. The loss isn’t to be blamed on the kicker. But still, if we had had some execution on [some] of those kicks, it might have made a big difference here.”