Yesterday, longtime Browns kicker Phil Dawson signed a one year deal to join the Super Bowl runner-up San Francisco 49ers. With the signing, it officially marks the end of an era for the Cleveland Browns. Dawson was the last remaining Brown from the 1999 return and his departure signals a drastic change in how this team is planning on doing business going forward.
Over the past 14 seasons, we have learned two very valuable lessons. The first is that the Browns will be terrible. The second is that no matter what the situation or the circumstances, Phil Dawson is money in the bank clutch. This isn’t any type of gross over exaggeration, but since the Browns returned from their three year hibernation Phil Dawson has been their best player. It partly explains why the Browns have been so bad for so long. When your kicker is the best player on the team expectations should be knocked down a peg of seven. That’s not a slap in the face of Dawson, though. He’s that good of a kicker and a legitimate offensive weapon. And while the rationale behind letting Dawson go makes sense on the surface, he’s 38 and deserving of a high salary, you can’t help but feel like they may come to regret the decision.
Kicking in Cleveland Browns Stadium, now known as First Energy Stadium, is not a simple task. There is a lot of weather and a lot of tricky wind to deal with. Dawson explained for years how he has learned the wind patterns and knows what to do with the ball and his foot in any given situation. So while on the surface the task seems simple, it’s really anything but.
Odds are the Browns will go for a younger, more inexperienced kicker, possibly even a rookie, in order to save money on their cap figure. Again, this makes sense on the surface, but how long can the Browns endure the growing pains of a new kicker learning the idiosyncrasies of kicking in that stadium? From that stand point the Browns don’t realize how valuable Dawson really was. I don’t even think some fans realize it either (most do, but there is the slim minority that does not). Because Dawson made it look so easy, I believe they feel as if any idiot could go out their and put the ball through the uprights.
Oh, and then there’s the science of kicking in Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. That place has eaten kickers alive. Again, after years of experience Dawson had that place figured out. Now we’re going to he forced to watch some guy from off the street that we can’t necessarily trust try to kick field goals. Buckle up.
With our luck, it would only be fitting that at some point in the 2013 season at least one game is decided on a missed, last second field goal. Compounding things further, it’ll probably result in us missing the playoffs or something of the sort. I know the scenario is far fetched, but come on… that would be our luck. Random Kicker X misses the kick, we get screwed, and on Monday we’re calling for the heads of the men that decided to let Phil Dawson just walk away.
Man, being a Browns fan is the best…
But, with all of that said, I guess it’s just time to move on.
Good luck in San Francisco, Phil! We’re going to miss you… and you’ll always be a Brown.