Nick Eatman notes that the Dallas Cowboys are pretty happy with Martin Gramatica’s first outing for the team.
The move to cut Mike Vanderjagt in favor of a kicker who had attempted just one field goal in the last two years certainly raised a few eyebrows around the NFL this past week.
“We had confidence in this guy,” said cornerback Aaron Glenn. “When you look at his track record, you know he’s made some big kicks before. And he’s won a Super Bowl (with Tampa Bay) before. So we were confident that he could get it done.”
Just like the Cowboys once had similar confidence in Vanderjagt, who came to Dallas with the best field-goal percentage in NFL history, making 87.5 percent of his field goals heading into the season. But the Cowboys definitely didn’t ‘see’ the greatness that Vanderjagt’s numbers suggest. While he missed two rather easy kicks in a preseason tie with the Vikings that would’ve won the game, Vanderjagt was never consistent, making 13-of-18 field goals.
Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells said earlier this week he found himself coaching differently because of his lack of confidence in Vanderjagt. “You can’t play this game in this league in critical situations without being able to rely on your kicker,” Parcells said. “You just can’t do it. It’s a very important part of the game.”
Parcells also said he expected those apprehensions to cease with the arrival of Gramatica, a career 76.7 percent kicker. Although Parcells admitted he wasn’t “exactly” overconfident with his new kicker after watching him in warm-ups, he also knows Giants Stadium isn’t the easiest place for place-kickers.
And even after Gramatica missed his first attempt – a 44-yard kick – wide to the right, Parcells said he wasn’t too concerned. “I just told him to relax,” Parcells said. “I thought he just chunked it a little bit. But the others he was pretty solid. That’s the way he was kicking all week in practice. I just feel fortunate.”
Certainly, this Cowboys fan wasn’t confident with him in there. Indeed, after he horribly botched that first one, I was quite sure that the Vanderjagt for Gramatica swap was a bad one. Still, three out of four ain’t bad and that was indeed a clutch kick at the end.
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