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Rob's Figure 4: Where Bailey Will Be Missed; Rare Rookie Backup QBs; More

(Editor's Note: senior writer and pro wrestling aficionado Rob Phillips' new column, "Figure 4," identifies four key statistics each week that impact the Cowboys' on-field performance.)

FRISCO, Texas – Kickers and offensive linemen: probably the two positions taken for granted most. Too often, we (fans and media) only talk about them when they miss a kick or a block.

Based on money and draft picks, we know the Cowboys appreciate their offensive line.

They certainly value their kicker, too.

In 2014, the Cowboys signed Dan Bailey to a whopping seven-year contract extension. A season later, Bailey made his first Pro Bowl. And throughout his seven-year career, he's been arguably the team's most consistent player.

Now he's likely out for at least a couple weeks due to a groin injury. No matter who replaces Bailey in the interim, the Cowboys will miss him. That's where we start this week in the stats column:

1. Bailey's So Money

Each kick is precious to a kicker's job security, and Bailey is currently the NFL's all-time leader in career field goal percentage (89.9 percent).

But distance kicks (40-49 yards) are where kickers really make their money, and (almost) nobody's better than Bailey there.

According to STATS, Bailey ranks second in all-time NFL field goal percentage from 40-49 yards (89.5),making 52 of 57 career attempts, including 3 of 3 this season. Only Baltimore's Justin Tucker (91.2) is more accurate all-time.

Bailey also ranks ninth in NFL history from 50 yards or more (25 of 36; 69.4 percent).

With Bailey out, the Cowboys will trust his temporary replacement, 12-year veteran Mike Nugent, who is a career 80.8-percent field goal kicker (74.7 percent from 40-49 yards). But for now, they won't have their normal security blanket when driving inside the 40-yard line.

2. Seeing Red

If there's a silver lining to Bailey's injury, it's the Cowboys' dominance inside the red zone. They're ending drives with touchdowns, not field goals.

Through six games, the offense ranks behind only Green Bay in red zone percentage (84 percent), scoring touchdowns on 17 of 25 trips.

The Cowboys had scored 11 straight touchdowns inside the 20-yard line, but the season streak finally snapped against San Francisco when the offense turned the ball over on downs in the fourth quarter with Cooper Rush in at quarterback.

3. Backup Plans

Speaking of Rush, the undrafted rookie earned a chance to back up Dak Prescott for the first time this season. Monday on 105.3 The Fan, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones indicated Rush "more than likely" will continue as the No. 2 quarterback over Kellen Moore.

This sure seems like a move toward the future – a decision to start grooming Rush for this opportunity now.

If Rush continues in this role, it'll be the first time in 13 years the Cowboys have tabbed a rookie quarterback during the season as the primary backup.

(Notice I said "during the season." Prescott, of course, was set to begin last season as Tony Romo's backup until Romo's back injury changed plans just before the opener -- and altered the course of the franchise forever.)

The last two were former baseball players: Drew Henson (2004, after Quincy Carter was abruptly released in training camp and Vinny Testaverde was moved to the starting role) and Chad Hutchinson (2002, backing up Carter). This was in the middle of the six-year lull period before Romo took the franchise-QB torch from Troy Aikman.

Beyond that, you have to go all the way back to 1993 to find a rookie Cowboys backup quarterback by the name of Jason Garrett, who replaced Troy Aikman in a November win over the Giants after Aikman hurt his hamstring. The Cowboys signed veteran Bernie Kosar to start the following week, however.

And, Aikman had fellow rookie Steve Walsh as his backup in 1989. But the team hasn't entrusted a rookie with that No. 2 job in a long time. It's a sign of their faith in Rush.

4. Tank's Rolling

How good has DeMarcus Lawrence been?D-Law is one of nine players in NFL history to record a sack in each of the first six games in a season.

Lawrence currently ranks second in the league with a career-high 9.5 sacks. His six-game streak is the Cowboys' longest since DeMarcus Ware got a sack in eight consecutive games in 2012

This Sunday at Washington, Lawrence will try to join Minnesota's Everson Griffen (9 sacks) as the second player to get at least one sack in seven straight games this season.

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