Phil Dawson “Watching Playoff Football…..Again”

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The Browns have been back since 1999. In the “new era” there has been just one player who has been here from the beginning; Kicker Phil Dawson. He came in as an un-drafted rookie out of the University of Texas. All he has done since he arrived in town has been the rock of the franchise. I would argue that he has been the most successful player of the new era. Other than maybe Joe Thomas, I defy you to find me a player on this team who has done his job better than #4. Throw in the longevity and the fact that his game hasn’t slipped one bit and has only gotten better over the years, and you’ve got someone that Browns fans have to love and appreciate.

Fans here have an affinity for the soon to be 37-year old kicker. Year after year, kick after kick, the guy has come through. His three for three performance in a blizzard in the 2007  win over the Bills as the Browns were driving towards a 10-6 record was the greatest kicking performance in Browns history. Lou “The Toe” Groza may be in the Hall of Fame, made nine-All Pro teams as both a kicker and an offensive lineman, but give me “Philly The Groin” over him all day long.

Dawson is the Browns all-time leading scorer, yet he has only been to one playoff game in his illustrious career. In that game, his team lost to Pittsburgh. That was a long nine years ago. After the 2010 season where his team lost double digit games again, Dawson seemed to have one foot out the door. However, GM Tom Heckert decided to do something that doesn’t happen very often in the NFL – he used his team’s franchise tag on their Kicker. So Dawson was tied to the Browns for another year and once again performed to a Pro Bowl level. He was 24-29 on field goals, and only one of those was a straight miss. He had four kicks blocked as result of either poor blocking or bad snaps and also managed to nail a career high seven field goals from 50 yards or longer.

Phil is at the top of his game still and the frustration of another losing season has to be eating at him.

On Sunday, Dawson let his disappointment out on Twitter:

I saw that tweet and the first thing that came to my mind was that Phil deserves better than this. He’s been here for 13 years. He has seen every one of the porous regimes come and go. Throughout it all, he kept his mouth shut and did his job to an A level. So I have some advice for him.

Leave Cleveland while you can.

Heckert most likely won’t be using the franchise tag on Dawson a second year in a row for a couple of reasons: With LB D’Qwell Jackson a free agent who the Browns must hang onto, its very possible they would have to use the tag on Jackson if they can’t reach a long term deal. Another aspect of the franchise tag that works against the Browns keeping Dawson, is the raise Dawson would receive if he is indeed tagged again.  As Tony Grossi of the PD pointed out Sunday, the Browns kicker would receive a 20% raise in pay, bumping him up to $3.9 million. At first blush you’d think the Browns would be crazy to let him walk, but with so many holes elsewhere, the front office may be thinking that money could be spent more wisely in other places. At some point, they were going to have to start over at kicker with Dawson in his late 30’s. There could be no time like the present.

So Phil, this could be your big chance to get out and sign with a contender, so you don’t have to be “watching playoff football…again” next January. If I’m a cold weather contender with shaky kickers, like the Jets or the Steelers for example, I target Dawson in free agency. Nobody knows the swirling winds of the AFC North stadiums like Phil does.

If Dawson does leave, it will be a new era of Browns kicking. Incredibly, as poor as the Browns have been over the last 30 years, they have really been lucky in this department. Don Cockroft kicked for the Browns from 1968-1980. Matt Bahr took over in 1981 and departed for the New York Giants in 1990. After one year of the Jerry Kauric experience, Matt Stover took over the reins as Browns kicked until the team move to Baltimore in 1996. Stover incredibly kicked for the Ravens through 2008. Dawson has been the incumbent for the last 13 years.

Pretty remarkable.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    Love Phil, and I hope he stays…but I wouldn’t blame him at all if he wanted to go play for a contender and try to get a ring.  Also, I was at the “blizzard game” against the Bills, and the 47 yarder he hit in that white-out was the most amazing FG I have ever seen.  I couldn’t believe that they even tried it…let alone made it. 

  • http://twitter.com/cre8ive_juice Mike Brenkus

    I can’t bear the thought of him kicking a game-winning FG for the Steelers against us in a game w/playoff implications.. Go to the NFC Phil! PLEASE?

  • Max

    Duuuuuuuude…how can you forget Mark Mosely? He was the MVP in 1982 (not for us, but still) He was nails in ’86. For the Jets game alone…anyone who didn’t leave that game early knows how good he was. 

  • http://twitter.com/oribiasi oribiasi

    I’m surprised Dawson would want to leave the amazing and inspirational coaching that Shurmur has given the team.  I’m literally floored that “I’ll see you Wednesday” doesn’t inspire him to stay another year?!  Shame on you, Pheeeel!

    Kidding aside, sure, go ahead and flee Phil.  Get yourself a list of NFC contenders and take your pick.  You’ve done your time in purgatory and no one would blame you if you did.  You’ve been more loyal and “team-oriented” than many other players that have passed through this franchise.  And, you accounting for almost 50% of our points this year ALL ON YOUR OWN, so congratulations.

    Seriously:  if he goes, and we get someone 75% as good, imagine our record next year?  Just you wait till next year for that…haha.

  • http://twitter.com/oribiasi oribiasi

    He’ll go the Bengals along with Hillis and make a run against the aging Pittsburgh/Baltimore franchises and probably beat them out and make our organization look even more like idiots.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    nit of all nits:  i give the edge for best FG ever to vinatieri in with the game tying one there.  conditions slightly worse for dawson, stakes log-scale higher for vinatieri.

  • Anonymous

    Phil is welcome to watch the playoffs at my house anytime.  I’m a short 15minute drive from Steiner Ranch (prayers again to those there as they are still rebuilding from the wildfires).  Austin, TX for those that didn’t follow that story.

    Anyways, I would understand if he leaves (as long as it wasn’t to go to Pitt), but hope that he doesn’t.  He’s been with us through all the crud.  Let’s get this thing fixed and get him a few playoff victories in Brown and Orange.  And, kicking in CBS is a tricky thing.  There aren’t many kickers in the NFL I would trust doing it (pretty much Dawson and Akers – another great windy kicker).

  • Anonymous

    we should never have franchised him. we would have had a shot at andrew luck. there going to have to figure out a kicker sometime and i dont want it to be a year when we are in the playoffs (hopefully 2013).

  • http://twitter.com/oribiasi oribiasi

    Phil is 36 years old.  He doesn’t have the time to wait for this team to improve to playoff-caliber.  Let the poor man go so he can get a ring before he dies of old age.

  • Jay

    Obviously the love I have for Phil Dawson is plentiful, considering a lot of the time, he’s been our only scoring threat. As much as I hate to see him leave, he does indeed deserve to play for a contender. And that’s not happening here in the very near future. He’s a class act through & through. Best of luck Captain Clutch.

    p.s. Does Dawson have a legitimate shot at making it to Canton when he hangs them up?

  • James Adamich

    If Phil does leave, this organization needs to put him in the Ring of Honor right away. He absolutely deserves to be there and it would be shame if they waited until he retired.

  • http://twitter.com/oribiasi oribiasi

    Agree 100%.  He definitely deserves it.

    I worry, though, given this regime’s track record (Jim Brown).  We’ll never know what transpired between him and Holmgren and Brown always was a hot-head, but I tend to think the truth between what happened there would shed a lot of light on how this current team is run. 

  • http://twitter.com/oribiasi oribiasi

    Good point.  Adam Vin. was a hell of a clutch kicker. 

  • BuckeyeDawg

    Browns Ring of Honor?  Certainly.  Canton?  Highly doubtful.  He’s been good, but not HOF caliber good. 

  • DonFelder

    I hope he leaves for two reasons:

    1. To taste success and winning that he deserves

    2. To further embarrass this garbage offense that Shurmur & Co. are running so that by the time the team is rebuilt, we’ll have competent coaching personnel installed. Good lord, if we had one of the crappy kickers, we would have won even fewer games the last several years. 

  • Matt

    Aren’t they missing Jeff Jaeger?   He kicked for at least 1 year…

  • Roosevelt

    So other teams have boast things like three head coaches since 1968, or two quarterbacks since 1992. Those things lead to, or are indicative of, multiple Super Bowls. We boast three kickers since 1982. Here’s to consistency. I wonder how long they could hold on to a cheerleading choreographer, if they had cheerleaders. 

  • Steve

    I would say its a safe bet that dawson is the only kicker in NFL history to hit both uprights AND the crossbar on successful kicks.  He’s also probably the only one to recover his own onside kick.  And does anyone else remember that hanging kickoff down the sidelines that quincy morgan sprinted down to snatch out of the air?  Not only is Phil an excellent field goal kicker, but he’s also incredibly inventive on onside kicks and has been successful in doing so.  Plus he has the first rushing touchdown of the new browns era.  He’ll be a Browns legend forever.  Gonna miss good ol’ Uncle Phil.

  • Matt

    I though Jeff Jaeger kicked here for a while…am I wrong? Need to also count the guys that filled in for injuries like Billy Cundiff and Mark Moseley.