Greg Zuerlein‘s struggles were predictable.
He underwent offseason back surgery and spent training camp working his way back. Zuerlein kicked in the Aug. 29 preseason finale, missing a 56-yarder.
In the season opener Thursday, Zuerlein missed a 31-yard field goal way, way, way wide left and had an extra point bounce off the left upright. He also missed a 60-yarder before the half that the Cowboys were lucky didn’t come back to bite them.
He made a clutch 48-yarder with 1:24 remaining to give the Cowboys a brief 29-28 lead. The Bucs won on a 36-yard Ryan Succop field goal with 2 seconds left.
Zuerlein blamed himself for the loss, though does anyone else believe the Bucs wouldn’t have scored a touchdown had they needed to score a touchdown to win?
In any event, the Cowboys aren’t trying out kickers, even with so many veteran kickers available. They are committed to Zuerlein, who followed special teams coach John Fassel.
“Yeah. Yes,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on 105.3 The Fan, via Mark Lane of WFAA, when asked if Zuerlein remained the team’s kicker. “I said he’s, again, do you go into the season with a kicker that’s been on kind of IR and been easing along maybe when it’s that vital to really be in the swing of things? Do you go with a kicker that didn’t do much during the preseason relative to competition that spent a lot of time, which they can, out on the practice field and working really the art that way? Yes. We did, and I think we paid a price there in this opening game. I believe in him long-term, and I believe he’ll play better as we get through the season.”
Zuerlein made all 13 field-goal attempts inside 40 yards last season, and in fact, converted 31-of-32 field goal attempts shorter than 50 yards. He missed 6 of 9 attempts from 50-plus yards.