FRISCO - The Dallas Cowboys special-teams coach is in fact, here inside The Star, much more than that.
First off, John “Bones” Fassel has the official title of “special-teams coordinator.” And as a practical matter? He might as well hold the title of “special-teams GM.”
That’s how much power Fassel wields here, working under the actual owner/GM Jerry Jones, who is aware that a great deal of rope given may have contributed to Thursday night’s 31-29 loss at Tampa Bay.
“I felt like we really paid the price of not having our kicker in training camp,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “I look back, and when you don’t have a kicker that’s real active in training camp, you may be kidding yourself in early ball games - Is he really ready to go?”
Based on the performance of Greg Zuerlein - Fassel’s hand-picked kicker - that answer is clear.
Zuerlein blew a chip-shot field goal, missed an extra point, and was inexplicably allowed to try a 60-yarder that, of course, failed.
Why? Maybe because the former Pro Bowl kicker, coming off back surgery, spent the entirety of training … not kicking.
"If I did my job, we win that game,' said Zuerlein, who did connect on a late-game field goal that would’ve been the game-winner if not for Bucs QB Tom Brady’s last-minute heroics. “I feel bad for the guys in there that played their ass off, and I didn’t hold up my end of the deal.''
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Countered Jones: The loss isn’t to be blamed on the kicker,” Jones said. “But still, if we had had some execution on (some) of those kicks, it might have made a big difference here.”
Zeurlein spent the entirety of training camp and most of the preseason on the PUP list. As a result of that, Fassel and company decided to not spend much time working on place-kicking. They allowed the backup punter (the since-released Hunter Niswander) to handle field goals, did not sign another kicker, and skipped the normal focus on coordination - despite employing a new long-snapper (Jake McQuaide) and a new holder (punter Bryan Anger).
What did Dallas’ special teams accomplish? Fassel, such an engaging personality that when head coach Mike McCarthy calls for some team-bonding fun in the form of a game of “Jeopardy,” it is the theatrical Fassel who plays the role of game-show host.
Oh, and there was his infamous “vasectomy story” told while the “Hard Knocks” cameras were rolling.
There is far too little evidence that Zuerlein and Fassel deserve acclaim. Maybe that evidence will come on Sunday in a Week 2 visit to the Los Angeles Chargers.
“I believe in (Zuerlein) long-term and believe he’ll play better as we get into this season,” Jones said. “(But) do you go into a season with a kicker that’s been on kind of on 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 in the preseason (as opposed to other teams) that spent a lot of time on the practice field and working really the art that way?”
Cowboys GM Jerry Jones has questions.
“Special-Teams GM” “Bones” Fassel needs answers.
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