Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones was confident that PK David Buehler could handle more than kickoff duties, which he did solely as a rookie, and be a full-fledged kicker in his second season. Although Buehler was not the primary placekicker for most of his college career, Jones believed his strong leg and steady improvement with accuracy throughout the offseason would lead to success this season. But Buehler hasn't been consistent with his kickoffs or FG attempts this season, and he missed a crucial point-after try in the 27-26 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday.
The PFW Spin
Kicking hasn't been the biggest issue this season, but the Cowboys know they'll need to respond in a big way next season and part of that improvement will include needing to win close games. Buehler is not going to be cut for his miss Saturday, but he also certainly will have competition.
It has been a bit of a strange season for Buehler, who has made 4-of-5 attempts from 50 yards and beyond, including a 53-yarder in the loss to the Cardinals, showing the leg strength that so has enamored Jones. But he also has missed big FG attempts against the Vikings, Bears and Redskins and has made only 12-of-18 attempts between 30 and 49 yards. You also have to mention his two missed extra points, including the biggie at Arizona.
The problem earlier in the season was his kickoff effectiveness, which clearly was off from his rookie year. In 2009, Buehler averaged 67.4 yards per kickoff and had a touchback every 2.7 attempts with zero hit out of bounds. Even with a recent flourish, those numbers have been off with his slow start: 66.6 yards per kickoff, a touchback every 3.9 attempts and three hit out of bounds. People around the Cowboys say that his kickoff problems early on were mostly mental, and his recent rebound in that category seems to back that notion up.
There's no questioning his leg strength, but you can expect Buehler to receive some competition from an experienced FG kicker. The team still could keep two kickers if Buehler can be more of a field-position weapon (he's also an excellent athlete and kick-coverage guy), but it's not a given, either.