The 2022 season got off to a hot start for Cade York as the Cleveland Browns rookie placekicker nailed a game-winning 58-yard field goal against the Carolina Panthers in week 1
Ever since then? Well, things have been a bit rocky for York.
But that does not mean the Browns should be in the market for a new placekicker this upcoming offseason.
For the year, York has converted 93.5 percent of his extra points (29-of-31) but just 73.3 percent of his field goals. He has particularly struggled from 50-plus yards by converting just 57.1 percent, which is a bit surprising given the weekly social media posts showing him routinely nailing kicks from that distance and beyond in pregame warmups.
Going back to the opening game, where York converted all five of his kicks (four field goals and an extra point), represents his high point with a Pro Football Focus grade of 86.1. It has been a roller coaster since then as York has only earned a grade above 70 twice and picked up his second-lowest grade of the season (37.8) this past Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Baltimore game was a bit of a microcosm of York’s season as he made a pair of field goals, including a 47-yarder to open the scoring, but missed a 46-yarder and had one of the ugliest misses on a 38-yarder that should be as close to automatic as possible.
Former NFL kicker Jay Feely has pointed out on at least two occasions that York appears to be struggling with his foot placement on his kicks, which while frustrating at least sounds like something that can be corrected.
I went and watched every miss that Cade York had this year. The misses are on him. There were no bad snaps or holds. Bojorquez has struggled the past couple years with holding but he worked very hard this off-season.
The biggest issue I see is plant foot placement for York https://t.co/HIrX5V8qYP
— Jay Feely (@jayfeely) November 28, 2022
And before anyone starts looking at free-agent kickers or dives into film of potential draft picks, there are a few things to remember about kickers.
First up is that even the best kickers have bad days. Look no further than Baltimore’s Justin Tucker who missed a field goal and had another one blocked on Saturday. It happens.
It can also take time for some kickers to find their groove. Phil Dawson is one of the three most beloved Cleveland players since 1999 after kicking with the team for 14 years. But Dawson made just 66.7 percent of his field goals as a rookie, was under 80 percent again in his fourth season, and did not even attempt a field goal of 50-plus yards until his fourth year with the club.
If Dawson played today, fans would be running him out of town on a rail. But Dawson eventually found his mojo and the rest is history.
For those fans who do not go back that far, there are more recent examples.
Cleveland drafted Zane Gonzalez in 2017 but cut him seven games into his second season as he struggled along with a conversion rate of just 68 percent. But he then started to figure things out and made 81.8 percent of his field goals in three years with the Arizona Cardinals and was hitting 91 percent this season in Carolina before landing on injured reserve.
Chase McLaughlin, the man that York replaced with the Browns, has made 84.4 percent of his field goals this year with the Indianapolis Colts and passed Adam Vinatieri on Saturday for the most field goals made from 50 yards or longer in franchise history with seven.
This isn’t to excuse York for having a rough season because, after all, he literally only has one job to do and that is to make kicks. But as Feely pointed out, it looks like York’s problems are mechanical, which in theory should be correctable if he is willing to work on them during the offseason.
It can be frustrating, especially when they are shanking kicks or coming up short in a big spot, but a little bit of patience can often pay off when it comes to dealing with kickers at the NFL level.