FRISCO, Texas –Good or bad, Dan Bailey's focus is always his next kick.
As the Cowboys move into the offseason, he'll have to wait months to move past an uncharacteristic slump in the final month following his return from a groin injury.
During this idle period, head coach Jason Garrett wants his veteran kicker to do something he's not necessarily accustomed to:
"I think the biggest thing for him is to kind of look at the whole body of work -- pull back and say, look at my career here," Garrett said. "He's been on the best kickers in the league throughout his career. He's been as good a player as we've had at his position. And he time and time again has made big kicks for us."
Needless to say, Garrett has complete faith that Bailey will continue to be a consistent, reliable kicker in 2018. According to Pro Football Reference, he ranks second in NFL all-time field goal percentage (88.2) behind the Ravens' Justin Tucker.
But after missing an extra point and a 23-yard field goal in the Cowboys' season finale at Philadelphia, Bailey acknowledged his struggles were "new territory for me."
"Obviously it's very disappointing on a lot of levels," he said. "I kind of just want to take my medicine on it and learn from it.
"It's really been a season of two halves. I thought I was hitting the ball really well earlier in the season, but after the injury, I just haven't been able to get in that same groove."
Bailey converted 7 of 7 field goal attempts in the first six games before injuring his groin Oct. 22 at San Francisco. He sat out four games and returned on Thanksgiving Day against the Chargers.
In the final six games, he made only 8 of 13 field goal tries and missed the first two extra points of his career.
Bailey indicated that the time off affected his routine and his rhythm. He'll have the entire offseason to get that back.
Another part of the solution, Garrett believes, is Bailey reminding himself who he is.
"Coming back off of the injury in San Francisco, he wasn't quite himself," Garrett said. "He was out for a while, and then when he came back he just didn't seem quite himself physically. He's always been so automatic. So he had to deal with that and he'll have to kind of work his way through that mentally. The kicks in Philadelphia were challenging because of the conditions. We all know that. There were other kicks that he would probably want to have back too.
"My big charge to him is to pull back and look at the whole body of work and not get caught up in these things that have happened recently and just get your mind right. That's his greatest strength. And kind of get your rhythm back. Hopefully over the course of the offseason he'll be able to do that."