Kicking and Screaming

Cowboys' foot remains Achilles' heel

"I know this, you won't see any more money going out on a kicker around here," says owner Jerry Jones, referring to Vanderjagt's free-agent signing bonus. "They're just too fragile."

Because Hoffman will be nuzzling graybeard legend Morten Anderson for the Falcons instead of nurturing green-feet prospects in Dallas when the teams meet December 16, the Cowboys' kicking is likewise tenuous. But if Hoffman was still here, so too would the NFL's most accurate kicker.

Remember, of Vanderjagt's four legit misses, three hit the right upright and one missed right by less than a foot. Even in his last game on Thanksgiving he sneaked a chip-shot field goal and an extra point just inside the right post. Though not accurate, his pattern was consistent.

Kicking guru Steve Hoffman was once the answer man.
Kicking guru Steve Hoffman was once the answer man.

If you believe Hoffman's old theory that kickers lose aim more often than they lose accuracy, perhaps Vanderjagt was merely hitting a perfect ball toward a flawed target.

If Tiger Woods hits 10 consecutive wedges 12 feet right of the pin, guru Hank Haney simply monkeys with his alignment. A Hoffman tweak or two and presto, Vanderjagt could've resumed nailing balls down the fairway, Jones could've gotten more bang for his buck...

And the Cowboys could've actually had a kicking weapon instead of a weakness.

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