Records were made to be broken and Cowboys kicker Brandon Aubrey is set to break a few in his first NFL season.
Record Holding Rookie
Aubrey already broke the record for most kicks to begin an NFL career. On Nov. 5th, at Philadelphia, Aubrey nailed a 51-yard attempt to give Dallas a 17-14 halftime lead. It was his 19th-made field goal in 19 attempts. It also broke Travis Coons (2015) record of 18 to start a career as the Browns’ kicker.
Aubrey has added 16 more successful kicks to his record since. He has made nine from inside 30 yards, 13 from 30-39 yards, four from 40-49 yards, and nine from 50 and beyond. His longest field goal is 60 yards. It came against the Eagles at AT&T Stadium in a 33-31 win on Dec. 10th.It was also on a night when he made three other field goals of 45, 50, and 59 yards.
Records In Sight
In 2003, while kicking for the Colts, Mike Vanderjagt — a former Cowboys’ kicker — set the NFL record for most field goals made in a single season without a miss at 37. In 2017, Harrison Butker was the Chiefs’ rookie kicker. He holds the record for most field goals made in a single season by a rookie with 38.
Butker missed four kicks that year. Aubrey needs to hit on three kicks without a miss to break Vanderjagt’s mark and tie Butker’s. A fourth make without missing would give Aubrey three NFL records. Not bad for a rookie and welcome news to Dallas after years of kicking woes.
Cowboys Kicking Records
The Cowboys record for field goals made in a single game is seven, held by Chris Boniol (1996) and Billy Cundiff (2003) Aubrey is the current Cowboys’ leader for field goals made in a single season as well as field goals made without a miss. Richie Cunningham (1997) and Greg Zuerlein (2020) both made 34 in a single year.
Cunningham was 34-for-37 while Zuerlein was 34-for-41. Dan Bailey is the Cowboys’ all-time leader in made field goals at 186. Aubrey is currently 16th for Dallas all-time. He trails Roger Ruzek (39) and Time Seder (36) as possible players to pass on the list on Sunday. Aubrey could become the first Cowboys’ kicker to finish at 100% in field goals for a season. Dan Bailey hit 93.8% of his field goals (30-for-32) in 2015.
Cowboys Rumors: Insiders Say Mike McCarthy’s Future Will Depend on Dallas’ Final Game – Adam Wells, Bleacher Report
After three consecutive double-digit seasons, is head coach Mike McCarthy’s job on the line?
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, there’s a belief around the NFL that McCarthy’s future will be tied to how the Cowboys’ final game goes. “If the Cowboys play well in the postseason,” Schefter wrote, “McCarthy would have an excellent chance to keep his job. But if they struggle and end the season with an embarrassing loss, as has happened in each of the past two years, then some say that change could come to Dallas.”
If the Cowboys have another ugly loss in the playoffs, it won’t be a surprise if Jerry Jones decides to move on from McCarthy. The last two seasons have ended in rough fashion for the Cowboys. They lost in the 2021 NFC Wild Card Game to the San Francisco 49ers when time ran out after Dak Prescott scrambled for 17 yards.
In a rematch with the 49ers in last year’s NFC Divisional Round, McCarthy’s final play call with Ezekiel Elliott snapping the ball as the only offensive lineman was roundly mocked.
There were reasons beyond McCarthy that the Cowboys lost both games. Prescott struggled in the playoff loss last year, throwing two interceptions that led to six points for the 49ers in a game that ended with a 19-12 final score.
But the combination of questionable play-calling and clock management, plus being in his fourth season with a Cowboys team that has been regarded as one of the most-talented in the NFL over the past three years is going to put a bright spotlight on McCarthy.
The Cowboys and the Commanders are two teams heading in different directions. The Cowboys need to realize a few key points about the Commanders.
Passing game could be key to offense
Bad weather appears to be moving through the area well before the Cowboys and Commanders take the field on Sunday. The weather is expected to be cold, but not snowy or rainy like many suggested earlier in the week. This means good things for Dallas who have struggled to run the ball as of late.
Under poor weather conditions most teams are inclined to run the ball more and pass the ball less. This type of game favors the Commanders. But in somewhat neutral weather conditions, both teams should be free to attack how they see fit. That means the Cowboys can stick to their winning formula of being a pass-first offense.
There’s also a matter of the injury report. While coaches and players want to win in Week 18, the front office isn’t so inclined. The front office may make players unavailable by means of the injury report. With nearly half of the Washington secondary in question, the Cowboys should be able to easily work the ball down the field through the air.
The temptation for Mike McCarthy will be to avoid mistakes and come in with a vanilla gameplan that leans on run-pass balance. They must resist that temptation. The situation at hand is unfolding like the smartest and safest path to victory is through the air, doing what the Cowboys do best.
Running game could be key to defense
The Commanders are a better running team than passing team. They aren’t great in any one way, but overall, it seems they avoid the most damage by running the ball. But with Eric Bienemy calling plays, they are essentially an efficient run offense who pass the ball too much. The Cowboys have been struggling in all areas of defense since December but given their ball hawking secondary and slew of pass-rushers on hand, they are built to play the pass more than defend the run. If Washington wants to pull off an upset, running the ball may be the best way to do it.
Cowboys at Commanders: 3 bold predictions for Sunday’s regular season finale – Matthew Holleran, Blogging the Boys
Here a few hot takes for what could happen this week.
1) Dak Prescott combines to score four total touchdowns, capping off an MVP-caliber regular season
The 2023 Washington Commanders’ defense has been abysmal. Washington has given up the most yards (6.172) and points per game (30) in the league and has not given up less than 27 points in a game since Week 9. The Commanders’ defense also leads the league in touchdown passes allowed (35) and they are bottom three in NY/A (6.9), and passing yards allowed (4,148).
In recent years one thing the Commanders’ defense always excelled at was getting after the quarterback. That has not been the case this season. Washington has just 39 sacks on the year, tied for the fourth-fewest in football. After trading away Montez Sweat and Chase Young, Washington’s lack of pass rush has been alarming. The Commanders have recorded three sacks in their last five games, with all three coming in their Week 15 matchup against the Rams.
Four of Washington’s last five opponents have gone through their matchup without allowing a single sack. Not coincidentally, those teams have averaged 36 points per game over those four games. Dallas’ offense, in particular Dak Prescott and the passing game, should have a field day on Sunday against this dreadful defense. Prescott scores four total touchdowns as he pads his stats on an MVP-caliber season.
2) Cowboys intercept Sam Howell twice as the 23-year-old finishes the season with 21 interceptions
Sam Howell’s first season as a starter in the NFL has not gone great. The 23-year-old has shown some playmaking ability, throwing for 20 touchdown passes and 3,793 passing yards, but has been far too reckless with the football. Currently, Howell leads the league with 19 interceptions on the year. Josh Allen, who is second, has just 16, so it’s almost certain Howell will finish the year with the most of any quarterback in football.
Surprisingly, if you dive a little deeper you’ll see Howell is pretty lucky to have just 19 INTs on the season. According to Playerprofiler, the signal-caller has the most interceptable passes (31) in the league and second-most danger plays (35) of any quarterback. Howell easily could have four or five more interceptions if some bounces went the other way. Dallas’ defense will be able to take advantage of Howell’s recklessness and make him pay for some mistakes. For the second straight week, the Cowboys record two interceptions as their defense shows off their playmaking ability.
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