Coming off of a season filled with ups and downs, Arizona Cardinals’ placekicker Phil Dawson needs to become reliable again
The Arizona Cardinals must have believed that they had found a solution. A new problem had reared its ugly head in 2016. It was of the placekicking variety, and Chandler Catanzaro was ultimately shown the door because of it.
So when the Cardinals announced in March of 2017 that they were replacing the “Catman” with Phil Dawson, many fans rejoiced. A total of 11 missed kicks the previous season had caused much anguish among the team’s faithful. The signing of Dawson, one of the NFL’s most accurate kickers, would surely put the issue to rest.
That’s what the Cards had hoped, anyway. Unfortunately, the veteran who had been so consistent for 18 professional seasons, had become unreliable. The confident Dawson, who seemed genuinely thrilled to be with Arizona, had resembled a choke-artist at times in ’17.
The troubles started early on. In the midst of an opening-day loss to the Detroit Lions, the then-42-year old shanked a short 32-yard field goal. The fact that the miss occurred in a domed stadium was also alarming.
The following week, against the Indianapolis Colts, Dawson missed what would’ve been a game-winning, 42-yard FG with three seconds to go in the game. A miscue that, like the previous week, had also taken place in a dome. Dawson did redeem himself later in that game, when he was successful on a 30-yarder with 8:05 left in overtime.
Dawson missed yet another field goal, his third in as many contests, a week later in a matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. It was another failure from a short distance (36 yards), in another indoor venue (University of Phoenix Stadium). If the alarm bells weren’t sounding already, they were now.
But just when the Cardinals may have been thinking that acquiring Dawson was a mistake, he turned in a perfect performance against the San Francisco 49ers. Four field goals were executed, from distances of 29, 43, 50 and 32 yards, and none were missed. However, the rollercoaster ride continued in Philadelphia the following Sunday, when Dawson had a 51-yard attempt blocked versus the Eagles.
Over the last eight weeks of ’17, Dawson showed the Cards just how good he could be. Despite missing three extra-points during that span, the former San Francisco 49er and Cleveland Brown was almost perfect on three-pointers. Dawson was good on 20 of 22 field-goal tries, for an incredible 90.9% success rate over the last half of the year.
That’s exactly the kind of consistency that Arizona is counting on from Dawson going forward. His superb finish last season was proof that there’s still life in that aging leg. Perhaps the 2018 version of Dawson will be everything that the Cardinals were hoping for.