Cleveland Browns placekicker Cade York’s rookie season in 2022 could not have gotten off to a better start.
York hit a game-winning 58-yard field goal in Week 1 to help the Browns beat the Carolina Panthers and all was right with the world. But over the ensuing 16 games, York had a rocky relationship with his kicks, especially on field goals as he made just 73.3 percent overall (30th in the league) and was at 57.1 percent on tries of 50-plus yards.
Following the season, York reflected on the campaign and talked about the need to stop working to refine his game and simply focus on being in game mode every Sunday. In very simplified terms, stop thinking too much and just go out there and be the kicker that successfully converted his final eight field goal attempts of the season.
It is a message that new special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone is working to drive home to York as the duo continues preparations for the upcoming season (quote via a team-provided transcript):
“(Cade is a) great kid, hard worker, very in tune with his mechanics, and almost too in tune at times, I would say. So trying to get him to just kind of make everything simple, make the corrections fast and apply them to the next kick. We’re working through some things now. Operations have been pretty solid to this point.
“So every player, every season, every situation is different, especially for a rookie. You come into and you’re not kicking in an easy environment. The crowd, obviously, the weather conditions, just being at a different level overall. I think that a lot of things factor into it. I think he’s done a good job and he’s learned from a lot of his mishaps from last year and where he needs to be corrected on. I think that’s what we’re trying to do right now.”
As rough as York’s rookie season was at times, he was still good enough to be selected by The Athletic as the placekicker on their All-Rookie team, in part because he converted 93.5 percent of his extra points and showed enough promise to be honored.
And while rookie kickers often struggle to adapt to the NFL game, York is going to need to find a better level of consistency on field goals because there are certainly going to be times this fall when the Browns are going to need him, and his ability to make those kicks could be the difference between a playoff berth and another offseason of discontent in Berea.